Listen Up LPGA

By Michael FechterSeptember 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
Let me start by thanking the LPGA for making my job easy. Sometimes I struggle with what might be worthy to commit thought and energy for the voracious reader of columns, blogs and CNN tickers. Golf and comedy usually go as well together as chocolate and liver. That 'Hershey's pt' never caught on like it should.
 
So, thanks for announcing that all 'foreign-born players' must pass an oral English test to retain their playing privileges on your little tour.
 
Great rule. Doesn't seem racist or xenophobic to me.
 
Only, it doesn't go far enough. For now on, lets only let blue-eyed blondes play on the ladies tour. Congrats Laura Baugh, you now have exempt status. You, too, Paris Hilton. We feel certain your bag will match your shoes, which will also match your eyeliner. The tour needs a sense of style and you're the lucky winners.
 
Wow, all LPGA players must now speak English to play a game that truly transcends cultures and national borders. One language, under God, because the tour is worried about sponsors and TV ratings. Jump away from humanity and our right to speak in the language of our native lands. Will the LPGA ban deaf / mute players in the future because they cannot speak at all?
 
C'mon, LPGA, if you want TV ratings and you want your sponsors to have 'positive experiences with your players,' lets spice things up a bit. For now on, no one over 30 is allowed to play on tour. No need to come back for a personal appearance, Nancy Lopez. Oh, and Juli Inkster, sorry, but there is no tee time for you.
 
Better yet, let's set a weight limit for the LPGA. One John Daly in the world of golf is enough. We dont need his female counterpart filling up our Hi-Def TV screens. Or, perhaps the tour can start restricting players caloric and fat intake because, seriously, sponsors relate better to players with a BMI under 25. Dont worry Krispy Kreme, the LPGA Tour will still gladly accept your sponsorship money. But, if a player happens to sneak one of your hot original glazed or, worse, a chocolate iced custard-filled doughnut, shes banished from the tour. No exceptions. Theres not a place for cellulite in todays sponsor-driven LPGA.
 
If the LPGA is so worried about ratings and sponsors, why not take a cue from the wildly successful Olympics. Today, its all about beach volleyballers with their rock-hard physiques and tattoos. I felt like I was cheating on my girlfriend when I was glued to the set for hours while watching digs and smash overheads for gold.
 
Just think what bikinis on players will do for the ratings. Lets not just limit it to the players. Lets insist that the announcers also wear bikinis. Yes, that IS Beth Daniel in an aqua marine, tee back from Victoria's Secret. Nice.
 
The LPGAs prepared statement says that they are instituting this English requirement because 'athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development. State Senators from California to the Carolinas are slapping their heads because they failed to think of this tactical genius. For years, theyve been deporting day workers, landscapers and meat packers when they should have been concentrating their efforts on the scourge of professional athletes. Yao Ming, Ichiro and Dice K beware. Youre next!
 
An LPGA spokeperson said, 'There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it.' Well, who can argue with that? But, lets take a look at how things got to this point.
 
For years, the LPGA has struggled to be more significant. And, for the past decade or so, it has done a wonderful job doing just that. Annika and Lorena easily enter into any conversation about the most dominant athletes in their sports. As purses rose, the money attracted more and more players from all over the world. The level of competition rose dramatically to the point where nearly every winner on the LPGA can legitimately say that, for at least one weekend, she was the best golfer in the world.
 
The LPGA has about 170 active players. Of that number, 120 or so are from outside the U.S. and 45 are from Korea. Currently, 14 of the top 25 money winners are of Korean heritage. Its been said that there are more Kims on tour than there are in a Korean Kim Chee factory. (Kim Chee is a traditional and delicious Korean fermented cabbage appetizer, but you probably already knew that.) And, there are more Korean Parks on tour than there are American theme parks.
 
In America, you are allowed to say whatever you want as long as it does not incite a riot -- as evidenced by this column. You are allowed to dress as you wish as long as it is not 'indecent' and does not incite riot (Thank you for exercising your rights, Ms. Gulbis and others). And, the last I heard, you are allowed to speak in whatever language you want -- unless you are actually applying for citizenship. If Reilly Rankin wins the U.S. Open next year, Im all for allowing her to conduct her interview in pig Latin.
 
Let's be honest, the LPGA wants all the foreign-born players to speak English so that the American viewer can relate to them. We love, love, love athletes who have stories. That is why the Olympic coverage spent so much time on the back-story of how this or that pentathlete overcame dyslexia or Tourettes or even dyslexic Tourettes. It helps us relate. And, it adds some colorful words to our vocabulary. We want the story behind the story.
 
I have actually heard friends complain that they 'don't like' Michael Phelps because he isn't personable enough. Well, he's a swimmer. He swims. Michael Phelps eats, sleeps and swims. And, Korean golfers practice, practice and practice. They also seem to win, win and win.
 
So, the LPGA wants all the foreign-born players to speak English. Lets also make a rule that all the American players must learn Korean, or French, or that bastardized English they speak in England whenever they play a tournament on foreign soil. It's only fair play, which is something we are so proud of in golf.
 
Personally, I would love to speak Korean. I would never get shorted again on Kim Chee by my Korean produce vendor, a man who, oddly enough, is actually named Kim Chee.
 
Perhaps the problem is that the LPGA has never heard of something called a 'translator.' It has been popular in little places like the United Nations for years. During my stint as GolfChannel.com lead investigative reporter during The Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika, I made friends with a Korean-American who offered to translate for me whenever I wanted to interview a Korean player. C'mon, LPGA, with the present number of Korean players on tour, you can certainly afford her services. Just take the whole salary out of Seon Hwa Lee's next championship check.
 
So what if Americans have only won six times on tour this year. Golf is a global game. Get used to it. The American men's Olympic basketball team has and they did just fine. It's a big orb out there with people of many skin colors and many languages. It's one of the great beauties of humanity -- a thing we call 'diversity,' which should be celebrated, not squashed.
 
Is it really that important to hear a Korean-born winner on your tour in 2009 say in halting English 'I...uh...had...good...days...in Toledo...here.'? Lord knows, the gent that runs the Mexican food truck hates it when I speak in Spanish that way. He gives me something different each time I ask for a Burrito Vegetarian, and it has only served to increase my appreciation of foods I can neither pronounce nor recognize. I dont know what kind of a plant carnitas comes from, but it makes for a hell of a burrito!
 
But, thanks, LPGA. In the days without a young George Wallace, a Sen. Joseph McCarthy or even Andrew Dice Clay, you have made us Americans look racist, arrogant and short sighted. Thanks for making us appear additionally mean-spirited, shallow, driven by consumerism and xenophobic.
 
By the way, in case an actual employee of the LPGA takes note of my words, I am available to do your P.R. damage control.
 

Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
 
Editor's footnote: Mr. Fechter's opinions are not necessarily those of GOLF CHANNEL. As noted previously by Golf Channel.com, Mr. Fechter is a humorist and a jackass. His Spanish is minimal and his Korean is non-existent.
 
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  • Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

    By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

    The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

    “The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

    Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

    To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

    “At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told GolfChannel.com.

    Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

    Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

    Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

    “Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

    Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

    According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

    A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

    A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Web.com Tour) for a year.

    “I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

    Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

    “I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

    It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

    “This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

    Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

    And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

    The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

    In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

    “To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

    Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

    “I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

    He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.

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    Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

    By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

    A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

    The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

    The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

    Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

    Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

    "This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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    LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

    By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

    The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

    While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

    The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

    The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

    An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

    The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

    The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

    “Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

    While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

    The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

    The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

    For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

    Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

    Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

    Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

    Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

    March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

    March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

    April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

    April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

    June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

    June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

    June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

    June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

    July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

    July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

    July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

    Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

    Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

    Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

    Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

    Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

    Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

    Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

    Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

    Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

    Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

    Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

    And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

    Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

    Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

    Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

    Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

    In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

    THE MAJORS

    Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

    Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

    Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

    Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

    **********

    U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

    **********

    The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

    Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

    Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

    Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

    Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

    Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

    **********

    PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

    Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


    TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

    AT&T Pebble Beach

    Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

    Travelers Championship

    Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

    Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


    FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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    Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years