Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Responding to the 2009 LPGA Schedule

The LPGA has released its 2009 schedule and Hound Dog, Brent Kelley, and Ryan Ballengee have already offered significant responses. All I can say is that February and March are as ugly as I predicted and there's little-to-no time to put together the Asian events I called for to fill those dead weeks, but at least April isn't as cruel as I had feared, thanks to the surprising survival of the Corona--particularly given the possibility of something cropping up for the last week as a result of the extra time to put it together. While I have a quibble with the Corona coming after the Ginn--why couldn't it follow the Kraft Nabisco, to cut down on travel costs for the players, and have the Ginn kick off the Eastern Swing?--the first half of the season isn't the disaster I feared. Now if the Tulsa event can somehow still be saved....

The Wegmans and Farr will certainly benefit, not just as tune-ups for the year's third--and some would say biggest--major, but also because there is a string of limited-field events in late July and August. The Safeway also benefits by being the real start to the LPGA's fall for the majority of players on tour and preceding the Canadian Open. But, man, is August thin for almost everyone, or what? Too bad HSBC won't go in for putting their Women's World Match Play Championship back on the schedule somewhere in there.

If the LPGA can get their early-season Asian-Pacific swing for '10 as settled as their late-season one seems to be, that may be the best way to ride out the economic storm. Let's wait and see how Q-School in December turns out before we assume things will be worse with Annika gone. If Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Alison Walshe, Sun-Ju Ahn, Anna Nordqvist, Shiho Oyama, Miki Saiki, and Mika Miyazato join Ji-Yai Shin and Vicky Hurst (among others) in the Class of 2009--and '08ers like Amy Yang get full playing privileges on the LPGA next season--we may look back on that year as the real changing of the guard in the world of women's golf.

[Update 1 (11/20/08, 4:20 pm): Hound Dog puts the number of tournaments this year and next in historical perspective. For the near term, he's dead right: just look at what happened between 2001 and 2002: a drop of 5 tournaments and nearly $5M in total purses. The LPGA hasn't been over 35 events since then (and the numbers on the stats page for that period may even include team events like the Women's World Cup, the Three-Tour Challenge, and the Lexus Cup). But when you look at the "glory years" of 1977-2001, the LPGA was never under 35 events, usually at 37 or more, and for a few stretches at 40 or more. For the first half of the Annika Era (1994-2000, let's say), they broke the 40-event barrier 6 of 8 times. So when you see them in danger of breaking the 30-event barrier in 2010, that's definitely a cause for concern. Still, I'll reserve judgment until I see how the JLPGA, KLPGA, and LET schedules look for 2009.]

[Update 2 (5:15 pm): Here's Ryan Ballengee's response.]

No comments: