LPGA Unveils Five-Year Plan to Boost Its Image

By Adam BarrMarch 11, 2002, 5:00 pm
Ty Votaw may have pulled off the impossible over the weekend. He told more than 150 women they needed to shape up their image. And reportedly, they all left smiling.
 
Votaw, commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, called his players together for a mandatory three-day summit in Phoenix. He revealed a five-year plan for the LPGAs future that focuses above all on the players themselves.
 
The schematic we tried to convey, Votaw said Sunday night, is that were trying to make each of them more marketable in this competitive sports and entertainment market.
 
To some of the more critical voices in golf, Votaws news came not a moment too soon. The LPGA has been accused of lagging behind other golf organizations in purse size, television exposure, and sponsorship muscle.
 
To cure that perception, Votaw and his staff laid out a plan that took nearly two years to craft. Through a collection of new initiatives, the LPGA intends to reposition itself as an entertainment property, not just a sports league. It will also look for new ways to broaden its fan base, and will take a more active role in the development of young players.
 
The entertainment function will be served by the development of current LPGA players into celebrity athletes, Votaw said. He outlined five characteristics such golfers should have:
 
1. Performance. A top 30 player should be fighting to get into the top 10, and a top 150 player should be trying to become exempt, Votaw said.
 
2. Relevance to at least a segment of the fan base. The better a player performs, Votaw reasoned, the more people will want to know about her. When people discover, say, Betsy Kings devotion to Christianity or Juli Inksters success as a working mother, those players will gain great equity with an identifiable and enthusiastic segment of the fan base.
 
3. Attractiveness to that fan base. I dont necessarily mean drop-dead gorgeous, Votaw said, but the kind of attributes that make people attractive, that make people want to know more about them.
 
4. Joy and passion for the game. The players must look like theyre having fun before the audience will have fun.
 
5. Approachability. More autographs, more smiles, more cooperation with the press.
 
Theres not one player in this room who cannot in some way embody all five of these elements of success, Votaw told the players.
 
Gathered in that room were players of every shape and size, not all of whom fit the female marketing archetype. This did not concern Votaw, who insisted on focusing more on general attractiveness than the so-called lookism that sometimes dogs marketing efforts for womens sports.
 
Image does matter in many contexts in this society, Votaw said, and we need to be mindful of that.
 
The entertainment aspect of the plan overlaps significantly with the goal of building the fan base, Votaw said. As for development, the LPGA will take a greater interest in young players instead of waiting for the next star to emerge.
 
Were going to look at our membership policies, our qualifying process, and relationships with organizations such as the Futures Tour and the National High School Coaches Association, he said.

Both Votaw and Charles Mechem, a former LPGA commissioner who advised Votaw on the plan and attended the Phoenix summit, expected dissent or at least trepidation from some of the players. But early reports are that dissent never materialized.
 
I did not see it. And I watched pretty carefully, said Mechem, who is still revered and trusted by a great many LPGA players, although he has had no official position with the league since 1996. I know a lot of these players, and I was on the lookout for body language from some people from whom I expected a negative reaction. But I didnt see it.
 
We had a great three days, from the minute the summit started until the end, Votaw said. Ive never been prouder of the players in this organization.
 
Im just glad we finally have a plan, one player was heard to say. Now I can concentrate on my golf.
 
The new plan started about 20 months ago when LPGA senior staff commissioned a brand-value assessment, and hired Barb Kauffman, a consultant with marketing experience in the golf divisions of Spalding Sports Worldwide and Maxfli, to do it.
 
It was just kind of an audit, Kauffman said Sunday night. I interviewed consumers, sponsors, media, players and what became clear was, this organization was 50 years old, and it was still doing business the way it did 50 years ago.
 
Then I asked if people thought the LPGA had peaked, or if it had growth potential. And most people saw potential.
 
Tell-it-like-it-is advice from Kauffman, Mechem and others, including Basil DeVito, a former World Wrestling Federation and the XFL executive, led to the new plan. Specific initiatives will be rolled out in coming months, Votaw said, but he declined to reveal most of them now.
 
One early move to serve the development function is to add a professional development component to the work of Betsy Clark, head of the leagues Teaching and Club Pro Division. No longer will the efforts of Clark and her staff be confined to preparing women who dont want to tour for club pro jobs.
 
Instead of hoping the next star comes, theyre going to develop entertainers, and from a young age, Kauffman said.
 
But dont look for the LPGA to make robots. Although the league has had to withstand criticism that its two top stars, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam, are a little shy and vanilla by American press standards, the LPGA doesnt want to change personalities.
 
That would be the dumbest thing we could do, Mechem said. When I was commissioner, I would say to the players, I dont want you to show false emotion. But dont suppress the false emotion thats there. Be yourself.
 
Votaw is keeping his eyes on a definite set of prizes.
 
The benchmarks are, this year, 10 percent growth in television viewership and 15 percent in attendance.
 
That may take a change in approach from the players.
 
Each one will have to sublimate her interests to that of the organization, Mechem said, not to ignore those interests, but to enhance them on the theory that a rising tide raises all boats.
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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.


Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.


Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

Tiger Woods begins the final round of the 147th Open Championship four shots off the lead. He's out at 9:25 a.m. ET on Sunday and we're tracking him.


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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”