Viewership and traffic increases on our LPGA telecasts on ESPN, ESPN2 and LPGA.com have been significant this year. The LPGA State Farm series on ESPN and ESPN2 have generated 28% rating increases in household viewership from this year over last year; 42% when you look at the weekend telecast Saturday and Sunday, Votaw said during the Tyco/ADT Championship.
The LPGA Tour experienced positive growth throughout the 1990s. This was in part due to the giant influx of international players and the rise of the Big Three ' Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak.
The organization has seen the total prize money for its events increase 154% from 1990 to 2001, while televised events increased 153% during this same time.
Thirteen of our tournaments have raised their purses. Votaw continued. Well over half of our existing events will be raising their purses this year. Twenty of our tournaments have been on the schedule for at least 10 years with 12 of our events on our schedule for more than 20 years.
'That, combined with the viewership increases that are reflected in the State Farm series and the traffic on LPGA.com, I believe that the 31-event schedule will fulfill our brand promise of showcasing the very best of womens professional golf on a consistent, week-in and week-out basis.
Votaw, who will celebrate his 40th birthday in March 2002, began his tenure as commissioner of the LPGA three years ago. His primary goals are to further strengthen and build on the Tours existing schedule while continuing to globalize the Tour.
With a B.S. in journalism with summa cum laude honors at Ohio University, as well as a law degree from the University of North Carolina with cum laude honors, the Ohio native has the credentials needed to do the job. In addition to his paper credentials, Votaw loves his job.
The LPGA Tour is not the only tour raising prize money for next year. The Evian Tour is as well.
Evian Ladies European Tour marketing manager Emma Allerton is certain that the ground is fertile for womens golf in Europe to boom.
With young, stylish, talented players now succeeding time and time again at the tournament, the commercial team will look to reflect this new dynamic and glamorous image through all communications, encouraging the interest of the game to spectators, sponsors and the media alike,' she said.
We aim to raise the profile and reposition the Evian Tour as the most vibrant and dynamic womens sport in Europe.
Allerton credits the historical victory over the USA in the 1999 Solheim Cup as the turning point of interest in women's world golf as well as three dynamic rookie players ' Spains Paula Marti, Norways Suzann Pettersen and Karine Icher of France.
The Evian Tour now has their own Big Three to help drive interest in the their tour.
Just look at the success of women athletes and tennis players around the world,' Allerton added.
Television exposure is another meter of just how much interest there is in womens golf. In addition to the BBCs live coverage of events, the Evian Tour will telecast highlight programs to 130 countries, reaching over 40 million viewers; and in 2002 will launch a new lifestyle magazine show featuring the tour, the players, as well as travel, health, fashion and fitness.
There are undoubtedly some changes that will have to be made.
Like all womens golf organizations, the LPGA will have to adapt to the learning curve of a younger generation. Their ability to do so will be key to how the organization does future business, and more importantly how successful their business is. Votaw seems to understand this.
Our focus on the coming years will be on quality not only in the competitive area, but also in the economic quality of the golf courses that we play, the quality of our television, or the quality of the fan experience on site,' he said.
With so many positive factors painting a picture of business success coupled with changing dynamics, it is safe to surmise that the sport of womens golf has never been more popular than it is today. Be it the influences of Tiger Woods, Webb and Sorenstam - or the advent of junior golf programs, there is a virtually unquenchable desire to be a part of golf, regardless of gender.
Click here for The State of Women's Golf - Part 1