To: Walter Bingham, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
When I read your Teeing Off (The Trouble with Tigermania, March
6) I thought of the old saying, A desk is a horrible place from
which to view the world. Come see an LPGA event in person. By
doing that you might move into the 21st century and see the
growth and success of women's professional golf.
Unfortunately, you and SI have fallen into the all too familiar
trap of comparing the LPGA with the PGA Tour. That is misguided
and unfair. To say the LPGA is a beached boat in a rising tide
because we aren't as successful as the men is like saying the PGA
Tour isn't successful because it pales in comparison with an
economic rocket ship like NASCAR. The only fair evaluation of the
LPGA is to compare it with itself, or to other women's sports. By
those standards the LPGA is a big success. Here are some facts:
--LPGA purses have more than doubled over the past 10 years ($17
million in 1990 to $36.5 million in 2000), and the average LPGA
player has seen her annual income rise correspondingly. The
50th-ranked player in 1990 earned $83,000, while the player in
the same place in 1999 earned more than $173,000.
--The LPGA has 250 hours of TV coverage in 2000, more than any
other women's sport.
--The LPGA's popularity has grown beyond your limited view of
just the U.S. Karrie Webb's win at the Australian Masters
garnered an Australian TV network's highest rating ever for any
golf telecast (male or female).
You get the idea. The LPGA is celebrating its 50th anniversary in
2000 and enjoying its greatest prosperity ever. Or, using your
imagery, the LPGA is by far the oldest and largest ship on the
rising tide that is women's sports. To recognize the LPGA's
success, one must look at where the LPGA was and where it is.
Walter, please, get out of the office and see the real LPGA.
Votaw, 38, became commissioner of the LPGA a year ago.