Saturday, May 10, 2014

What Effect Has Tiger Woods Had on the LPGA?

I have been writing about the LPGA for quite some time now, but never has it been more enjoyable for me than it is now. As readers of this blog can see there have never been any ads on any of these pages. My main objective has always been to keep the LPGA in the news. I have always thought that the LPGA has never gotten the attention that it truly deserves.

What has made this more enjoyable with each passing week, is that things have finally begun to change. There is no doubt that the LPGA in 2014 has reached new heights in popularity that hasn't been seen in many years.
  • Attendance has been up both internationally and here at home.
  • Television ratings have increased dramatically.
  • Media coverage (newspapers, magazines) has increased.
Why this sudden turnaround?  Here are what I think are the main reasons:
  1. First and foremost the LPGA now has a commissioner that has made a commitment to giving its fans the best product he could possibly put out there. He also seems to have a knack of hiring the right people for the right jobs, and because of this he has gotten the results that have led to this turnaround.
  2. With 32 tournaments now on the schedule (there were just 23 a few short years ago), fans don't have to wait through long breaks that potentially decreases interest.
  3. Television coverage has increased to where over 350 hours will be broadcasted in 2014.
  4. The "Race to the CME Globe", and its 1 million dollar first prize has generated interest similar to what the FedEx cup is for the PGA.
  5. With 21 tournaments in North America, and tournaments in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Mexico, the LPGA now has fans all around the world.
  6. This may be my favorite reason for the big surge in 2014. In recent weeks we have seen victories by hugely popular players such as Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson.
I was very satisfied with my above reasoning until I got  an e-mail from a dear friend who wrote "I do feel the media has focused on the women more because Tiger is not in the equation."

Hmmm. I never really thought about that. Has Tiger's absence from the PGA brought more fans over to the LPGA? The e-mail went on to say (referring to the media), "I hope their mind set will continue with women's golf when he is back playing. Time will tell."

Well that is certainly food for thought, so I went on some of the golf forums around the world. I asked people who were new fans of the LPGA to tell my why. I went to forums in the US, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, and mainland China.

I was surprised that the most popular answer I got was that the PGA is suddenly very boring and the LPGA has been a pleasantly surprising alternative. Most elaborated even further saying that they were surprised at the high quality of  the women's game.

So what conclusions can we draw from the above?

I still think that all my reasons listed above are very valid and have contributed to the LPGA's resurgence. Those reasons will continue to draw more and more people to the LPGA.

Will things change when Tiger returns? I think only to a certain extent. Yes, people will still want to see what Tiger is doing whether they love him or hate him. But the key here is that the "Tiger effect" was a positive one. The new fans that came over in Tiger's absence enjoyed what they have seen and are not just going to abandon the LPGA.

Tiger or no Tiger, the LPGA is here to stay. I see it growing more and more in the coming years, which will keep this blogger smiling.

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  1. Up until this year here in N.Z we had no live coverage of the LPGA except for some of the tournaments Lydia Ko played in. With Lydia continuing to do so well and now a full time professional the interest here has increased enormously and warranted our only pay TV sports service Sky to take out a contract with GC to cover all the LPGA games regardless of Lydia playing or not, along with any other tournament she plays in. I'm sure Shanshan Feng does the same for China and other players do for their respective countries. What Tiger does will make very little difference to the LPGA audience here and Michael Whan had no choice but to except Lydia's petition to join the LPGA. He needs players like her to sell his product.

  2. I lean towards your reasons as compared to Tiger downturn, although it would be nice if we could see numbers on pro golf interest as a whole and then see the LPGA portion and the change pre and post Tiger downtime.
    I watched the LPGA event on TV over a telecasted PGA event in the last month, something that I would not have done prior to the rise of the new LPGA kids. For me, Ko, Thompson, Ryu, Lewis and Korda have made the LPGA fun to watch.

  3. Fred Mn Sept 11, 2014 I think the announcers at the PGA tourneys talked about Woods so constantly that it made PGA events almost unwatchable. As a result I think many people found the LPGA more enjoyable to watch as coverage was about everyone and not focused on one player at all times.