Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler
Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler

Notes from Nancy

The really big golf news the past few weeks comes from the professional golf associations in the United States. And women’s golf will be all the better for it

The LPGA Tour and PGA Tour establish an alliance

Mike Whan, Commissioner of the LPGA Tour and the Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour announced a “strategic alliance.” This is not a merger or a partnership and no change at the top management is occurring in either Tour organization. Basically, the LPGA/PGA Alliance will coordinate schedules Why? And why now?

In my opinion, the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour have been like trains traveling on parallel tracks – always making sure they weren’t bumping into each other. And although parallel tracks are safe, they don’t allow for synergy and collaboration. In fact, in some ways, the LPGA Tour train has been moving ahead of the PGA Tour train.

But in a recent interview following the announcement of the alliance, Finchem said that he has been paying close attention to what he called the “smart” approach that the LPGA has pursued in going after international markets. Finchem is also a very smart man and a visionary in many ways. Now Whan and Finchem don’t have to travel on parallel tracks, they will officially work together.

Very soon after the release of the new alliance hit the internet, there was talk of a men’s and women’s team competition. Well, there has been talk about that for years. In 2001 (that’s fifteen years ago!) Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods teamed up against Karrie Webb and David Duval in a “made for TV” match. The match went to the 19th hole and Sorenstam and Woods won. But for a variety of reasons the event did not draw a big audience and has not been tried again.

I predict that co-ed Tour events properly scheduled, promoted and sponsored will be back. And there is more chatter now about having men’s and women’s Tour events on the same day – perhaps even on the same course — with coordinated TV coverage of both.

Increased collaboration among women’s and men’s golf is not just occurring in the U.S. Recently the Royal and Ancient incorporated the Ladies Golf Union into its organization, hopefully with intentions to elevate awareness and appreciation for women golfers. I am probably not the only one that views this recent trend in gender equity as an inevitable outcome of the collaboration that has taken place over the four years in planning for the reintroduction of golf in the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. I am all for this perhaps “unintended” consequence.

The total number of golfers in the US is down, but the number of beginner golfers is up

The National Golf Foundation located in Jupiter, Florida, gathers participation statistics on the game in the U.S. and regularly holds conferences among the leaders of the industry. Just last week it released the 2015 statistics. The highlight was that even though the number of new golfers in the U.S. has increased, they are not staying with the game.

Well, this is absolutely no surprise to me! In fact, I have been talking and writing about this for years. What continues to surprise me is that the PGA of America still doesn’t get it.

I refer to the PGA of America professionals who manage most golf operations at most courses in the U.S. as the “gatekeepers.” They let you in the gate to play the game, but they don’t know how to put out the welcome mat. I have written and spoken extensively about what I call “Best Practices” that will attract and KEEP the new golfer. A tab on my website “Best Practices” on www.berkleygolfconsulting.com includes many pointers.

The good news is that with Pete Bevacqua, the CEO of the PGA of America and with Suzy Whaley, Secretary of the PGA on her way to becoming the President of the PGA, I think we will see some changes. Making the game more welcome to beginners is so easy. But I am waiting to see if the PGA of America picks up the challenge.

Nancy Berkley
March 13, 2016

Notes from Nancy are published in the monthly Women’s Golf Newsletter

Image credit: Puma 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.

Describing herself as a good bogey golfer with permanent potential, Nancy shares news about women’s golf – along with her opinions on www.berkleygolfconsulting and www.nancyberkley.com. You can also follow Nancy on Twitter.