Vetting the LPGAs Reversal

By Brian HewittSeptember 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
The joke going around the water coolers in golfs power hallways late last week went something like this:
PRESS RELEASE: The 121 foreign women on the LPGA have announced that commissioner Carolyn Bivens is officially on notice. If she doesnt improve her leadership skills in the next two years; become more fluent in the language of the sports power brokers; and if she doesnt pass an evaluation test of her decision-making abilities, she could face a suspension from her official duties.
It was a wicked send-up of the mess Bivens created last month when the organization she runs, the LPGA, ham-fistedly threatened its players with possible suspensions for those who could not pass an English language evaluation starting at the end of 2009.
The firestorm of controversy that met this announcement could have melted the faces right off Mt. Rushmore. Then word out of Los Angeles came that the Asian Pacific American Legal Center was planning a news conference to demand the LPGA rescind this new policy. State Farm Insurance, one of the LPGAs most valued sponsors, publicly distanced itself from the dictum.
So the LPGA finally got its head and its heart in the right place: Bivens admitted the policy, no matter how well-grounded its aims may have been, was wrong-headed in its potential implementation.
The LPGA has received valuable feedback from a variety of constituents regarding the recently announced penalties attached to our effective communications policy, read the tersely-worded statement out of the LPGAs Florida headquarters Friday. We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions.
In other words, the next Korean women to win a major championship wont be expected to make like Sarah Palin at the Republican National Convention.
This is a good thing because Korean, Japanese and Chinese are languages that have little in common with English. Add to that, the fact that three Asian women and a Mexican won the four womens majors in 2008 and you can justify cause for concern.
The LPGA is a sponsor-driven organization that thrives in an environment where those sponsors can point to the fan-friendly behavior of its players and the on-course bonhomie engendered between the best women golfers in the world and their pro-am partners.
Bivens was dead on when she publicized the need for all the LPGAs players to raise their games in the area of communicating to the public. She was dead in the water when it came to carrying out a plan.
After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to share our objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every Tour player, the Friday LPGA release went on to say. In that spirit, we will continue communicating with our diverse Tour players to develop a better alternative. The LPGA will announce a revised approach, absent playing penalties, by the end of 2008.
In short, the LPGA stared the overwhelming weight of public opinion in the face.
And the LPGA blinked.
It had to back off because theres too much golf money from the Asian rim at stake. The LPGA's biggest single revenue source is TV money from Korea. And there was too much evidence from too many interviewed civil liberties experts warning the LPGA wouldnt have a legal leg to stand on in the courts if it didnt soften its stance.
This should also serve as a wake up call for the small number of parents of foreign players on the LPGA who dont really want their daughters to become proficient in English. Yes, there are golf parents out there who believe the time it takes their daughters to learn English and do more interviews, is time taken away from the daughters on the practice tee.
This is part of the battle Bivens has been fighting since she took over as commissioner three years ago.
She lost the skirmish this time and it has cost her valuable political capital in a powerful position that has always been a fragile one because of the diverse demands of its members. She is the seventh LPGA commissioner in a relatively short time. A few more poorly-vetted policies and there will begin to be whispers that she is starting to run out of mistakes.
The LPGA didnt need a translation to get the message, said the New York Daily News.
To be sure, the LPGA needs to get everybody on the same page before it can expect everybody to speak the same language. And that means doing a better job judging the impact of its decisions before those decisions are made public.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • LPGA backs down
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."