Friday, December 23, 2011

My Solution

There has been an uproar caused by Ai Miyazato winning the LET money title this year despite playing only two events.  I have a solution I'd like to propose.

Since it's football season here in the US, I'll take an example from that sport to make my point.  Let's say Tom Brady needs to leave the field to repair an equipment malfunction, so the backup replaces him for a few plays.  During that time the backup throws two passes, completing both.  The backup's completion percentage is 100, but he's not eligible for post-season awards based on that because he has not met minimum number of attempts that has been established by the league to be eligible for awards.  To repeat, even though the backup is a league member, he's not eligible because he did not meet the minimum number of attempts.

Now to the LET:  Women's golf is in a unique position at the present time.  There are three viable Tours (LPGA, LET, JLPGA) that attract the best players in the game at one time or another.  Wouldn't it make sense for the LET to establish a relatively low base number of tournaments so that Europeans (or Americans, or Asians) who normally play the LPGA could maintain LET membership, but establish a much higher number to qualify for post-season awards?

Could the LET establish three tournaments per year (one more than Evian and WBO, for example) as a minimum to maintain membership, but require 10 tournaments to qualify for awards?  The best players in the world will make an effort to play a few times a year, especially when there are holes in the LPGA schedule, but doing so wouldn't skew post-season awards.


The Constructivist said...

Great first post, Diane, and a pretty darn good solution. Right now the LET seems to save its POY for the best "regular" (full-time member), so they are already doing what you call for for prety much everything but the money-list already (unofficially, at least). I might be inclined to fiddle with your proposed numbers, though.

There's the JLPGA model to consider, for one thing. They require that their members play at least 20% of the schedule to keep their cards (well, those that make the top 50 on the money list). With their 34-event 2011 schedule, that came out to 6 events this past season--using their math, that is (I would have required 7 to ensure the players actually crossed the 20% mark!).

But the JLPGA's in a position of strength, with a full schedule, very few players with dual memberships or who have left the tour for the LPGA, and plenty of majors and big-money regular events whose purses are at least as large as the Mizuno.

On that last point, given the LET's WBO/Evian disparity, I wonder how many times a European player based on the LPGA has won the LET money title? I tried to check this, but their info. center is (conveniently) down for upgrades and I've been too busy to look elsewhere. It would be interesting to see how many times Annika was tops on both the LPGA and LET, for instance, and how few events it took for her to achieve the latter....

The reason I bring this up is in part to lead up to my suspicion that there wouldn't have been so much of a to-do if it had been, say, Suzann Pettersen or Anna Nordqvist (or any European who's based mostly on the LPGA) who had done what Miyazato did. But it's also to lead into my wondering how high the LET could raise its minimum-number-of-required-events-to-keep-your-membership number before they start knocking out Europeans. Your 3 seems low to me, especially if that ALPGA event the LPGA is co-sponsoring will remain co-sponsored with the LET. So could the LET go up to 4 or 5? Sure, if they figure out a way to join the LPGA in co-sponsoring the HSBC Women's Champions, for instance. But setting a firm number may be less desirable than using a percentage of schedule model like the JLPGA uses (at least saves them having to revise their bylaws every time the schedule changes).

As for the 10-event-minimum to qualify for awards, I'd be inclined to drop it if the minimum for membership requirement is high enough. Say if Ya Ni became a member and won all 5 events she played on the LET in 2012, I'd be hard-pressed to deny her any awards she would otherwise deserve.

On the other hand, if the LET doesn't create a "minimum for membership" requirement, I would support your "minimum for awards" requirement if it were put at something like one-fourth of the schedule. Otherwise you could set the bar so high that even a regular who played as limited a schedule as, say, Tiger did in his heyday on the PGA Tour would be ineligible for awards.

It seems like all the tours have some kind of minimum-number-of-rounds requirement to qualify for their scoring-average titles, and that is the real parallel with your baseball example. But if someone goes 5 for 5 or 7 for 7 in wins and nobody else gets that many wins in many more attempts, why shouldn't that person be POY, money-list title-holder, and so on?

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm not sure the LET needs to change anything, but if they did I think they ought to go with either a 20% membership rule or a 25% award rule. What do you think?

The Constructivist said...

Er, football example, I meant!

And it was Caroline Hedwall who was POY on the LET this year....

diane said...

Here's where my lack of knowledge hurts me. I'm not a close enough observer to know the LET had any requirements for awards, so internally I was speculating that next week Miyazato would be named POY as well.

I like the JLPGA's percentage of events requirement rather than my hard number. Even the most optimistic projections indicate there will be holes in the LPGA schedule next year which should encourage dual members to hop across the pond for a couple of weeks.

I like the idea of dual membership and co-sanctioned events because I think those strengthen both Tours.