I think what the LPGA needs in order to recover from its post Annika hangover is some fan friendly innovations. On course interviews during the round, such as on the Champions and Nationwide tours would be nice, and some personal bios that show the ladies beyond the golf course might let the fans into the lives of the players a bit more. Maybe they can show us that they aren’t golf robots after all and have a personality! More prime time LPGA golf coverage would also be a welcome addition, but it seems the golf channel is getting caught up in the reality show ratings grab. Case in point – The girls got no TV time for weeks after the thrilling Nabisco finish. We are lured in by a great final round and a thrilling finish like that, and then they go off the air for over a month. Not good planning on the part of the LPGA.
The LPGA Tour is also struggling to find an identity since Annika has retired. Lorena has taken the place of Annika as the best player in the world, but Americans are not enamored with her like they were with Annika. Paula Creamer is dealing with health issues and hasn’t been on her game, Natalie Gulbis hasn’t yet reached her potential, and Michelle Wie hasn’t stepped in to be the next superstar yet. Will she ever? Who knows, but I think we all forget that she’s not even old enough to drink. Give her time! Some of the other young players I know that have lots of star qualities seem to be busy partying and enjoying life, rather than focusing on being the best golfer they can be. I won’t mention their names because it’s their right to live how they want. They could be working hard and competing for championships (they have the talent), but instead they choose to skate by making a cut here and there and cashing a nice check. In my opinion, If we can get some of these superstars in waiting to come forward and take the bull by the horns the LPGA would see a great resurgence.
I would also like to see more PGA/LPGA tournaments, like the old JC Penny classic at Innisbrook. That was a great way to show off the best golf in the US in a more casual atmosphere. Going back to tennis for examples, the best drawing tournaments of the year other than the majors are the two big co-ed events at Indian Wells and Miami. We get to see the best of both tours in one place at one time. I think the LPGA and PGA Tours need to come together a few times a year and hold a WGC event with a limited field of say 32 men and 32 women. I think fans would love to see the men and woman competing on the same course at the same time. And while we’re at it, why not start a co-ed Ryder Cup style event? Wouldn’t it be great to see the best guys and gals in the US team up against the best guys and gals from the rest of the world? Maybe Annika would come out of retirement for that too. I for one would love to see the possible match ups for that one! I’ll be eagerly awaiting the Woods/Wie vs. Garcia/Ochoa match-up, or Mickelson/Creamer vs. Ogilvy/Webb. How about the all south pairing of Weekly/McPherson vs the all Korean powerhouses of Choi/Shin? The possibilities are endless!