I have three important points to share with readers this month in my Notes from Nancy. The first is about why “Major” tournaments are so important. The second is about women’s golf fashions. And the third is a difference of opinion I have about an article on this website.
1About the year’s first LPGA ‘Major’ tournament
The ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California just outside Palm Springs, is the LPGA’s first major and began on Thursday, March 30th. We won’t know the winner until the final putt drops on Sunday – after this Newsletter is on its way to your inbox.
Why are “Major” tournaments so important? First: The courses are generally designed by top golf course architects and often have been the site of previous championships. Second: golfers who do well in Major tournaments earn more Rolex Ranking points, which in turn can affect their chances of making the Solheim Cup Teams, and other year-long competitions and end-of-season awards.
Readers can track the Rolex Rankings right on this website and even see whether a player is moving up or down in the Rolex Rankings by simply clicking here. As I write these Notes, Lydia Ko is ranked Number One on the Rolex Rankings. But, she is unlikely to keep that spot after the ANA. To learn even more about the Rolex Rankings, go to Frequently Asked Questions on the Rolex Ranking site.
2Michelle Wie at the ANA
I showcased the 2017 women’s golf fashions in my recent Fashion article with 10 True-False questions. I cited the LPGA Tour dress code: No restriction on the length of skirts, skorts or shorts except for a simple restriction that “workout clothes are not allowed.” Sounds pretty clear, but not so easy to interpret.
I knew the concept of “workout clothes” was going to be a problem because I observed more golf designers testing out tights and leggings in their new lines. And then on the first day of the ANA, there was Michelle Wie wearing a gray NIKE skort with attached gray tights that stopped just above her knee and a new NIKE “swoosh” design on the tights. (The term “tights” and “leggings” are often interchanged so always look at the picture!)
And then on Saturday, Michelle wore a NIKE skort with attached tights but this time in black. (I think I will call them “skites”). The problem is that I have one of those skites, but I bought it in a store that features athletic work-out clothes. So the LPGA dress code which prohibits “work-out” clothes is not quite as simple as it appears. It may simply come down to “where” you bought your golf clothes and how they were marketed. Stay tuned.
One of the photos I could have used in my golf fashion article was a trendy new line by the ever-popular Sans Soleil line that is a leader in sun protection fabrics and styles. The owner was testing the concept out at the PGA Merchandise Show. I will keep you posted on its success.
3Comments on “Politics and Perceptions of Women’s Golfing Abilities”
Now to the final Note which has nothing to do with golf clothes or LPGA majors but about a recent article on this site: “Politics and Perceptions of Women’s Golfing Abilities” by Dr. Kelly Price, an Associate Professor at Tennessee State University was recently published on this site.
Relying on a 2009 article and its supporting data, Dr. Price reports that when the “women’s tees” are forward of the “men’s tees” making for a shorter course for women, it is possible that those shorter tees are creating a negative image of women’s physical abilities.
That negative image, in turn, is creating a bias against women’s participation in golf. Dr. Price suggests that changing the perception of women’s golfing ability may be the key to growing the number of women golfers.
In Kelly’s words: “Therefore, while countless important issues remain for women’s golf, is there a broader umbrella we should be analyzing that is bigger than the pay gap or growth numbers? Should the question be how do we grow the game or should it be how do we change the perception of women’s golfing ability? (italics added).
I disagree with Dr. Kelly. The fact is that women golfers, in general, do not hit the ball as far as male golfers and do not score as well even though playing from forward tees. Those facts are not issues of “perception” – they are just the reality of gender differences. That is not to say that no women can score better than men. An LPGA Tour player, for instance, can probably outplay many of the top male golfers at my course.
Here’s a closer look at playing ability by gender: Using statistics from the USGA Handicap Index ®, the median handicap scores for men (I like to use the median rather than average) is 13. The median handicap for women in the USGA Handicap system is 25 — almost double that of men. (Median=50% have lower handicaps and 50% have higher handicaps.) The difference between men’s and women’s golf ability is probably even greater because many more women golfers do not bother to maintain an official handicap. See: http://www.usga.org/Handicapping/handicap-index-statistics.html
In my opinion, it is not perceptions about golf ability or the length of women’s tees that are holding back the growth of women’s golf. Actually, the number of women golfers in the U.S. is increasing more than male golfers and girl’s golf is the fastest growing segment in the U.S. (See statistics on www.nancyberkley.com) But, how to grow women’s and girl’s golf is another subject for another article.
Nevertheless, I applaud Dr. Kelly for putting forth her theory. It inspires all of us who love this game and want it to grow to keep thinking about solutions and best-practices. And thanks to this website www.womensgolf.com for providing a forum for these discussions.
Be Happy, Be Healthy, Live Longer, Play Golf.
Nancy BerkleyNancy Berkley is an expert on women’s golf and junior-girls golf in the U.S. A special interest of hers is encouraging business women to enjoy golf with colleagues and clients. Nancy is a member of the World Golf Foundation Women’s Committee and a member of the National Golf Foundation. Nancy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Harvard University, Rutgers Law School and has a degree from the Professional Management Program of Harvard Business School.
Nancy is an active golfer at Frenchman’s Creek Beach and Country Club, her home course in Palm Beach Gardens Florida, where she plays both social and competitive golf. Her current Handicap Index on the USGA GHIN system is 17.5. Describing herself as a good bogey golfer with permanent potential, Nancy shares news about women’s golf – along with her opinions on berkleygolfconsulting.com and nancyberkley.com. She is looking forward to on-site reporting from the Solheim Cup in Iowa in August.