LPGA Through PGA Eyes

Dishing of LPGA by Male Fans Reveals Problem of Living Vicariously

I have spent more than enough time with my male colleagues as they put down the idea of women playing real golf, and taking shots at the LPGA, the big leagues of the women’s game. “They have no distance. It’s too tame. It’s a powder puff game.” It reminded me of a time when three of my male friends went off on a female commentator at a professional football game. They declared “She’s never played a down of professional football,” forgetting for the moment that they hadn’t either. Same thing with golf.

There’s a lot wrong with male perspective about women’s golf. The simple response is that the LPGA players don’t hit it as far  as Tiger Woods, or other big PGA hitters. That may be true, but it’s  the wrong comparison.  Fact is, they hit it a whole lot farther than you and I do. I have average, perhaps a little bit above average length off the tee, but nothing to write home about. In my younger years, I might outdrive a little over 50% of my colleagues. Using that as a statistical measure, that means Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie outdrive me by 35 to 70 yards or so. In fact, the most petite short-hitters of  the women’s tour still outdrive the average male amateur by a good 20 yards, maybe more.

The mistake has been in comparing the women and ourselves to Tiger and company. Tiger might, but we do not outdrive the LPGA by any stretch, Any man who has spent time in an LPGA gallery knows that close up.  As for the rest of the game, if the average male amateur challenged anyone in the women’s field to a match and bet the farm on his chances, he’d probably go home in a barrel with some explaining to do.

I tried to study the differences between the male and female swing. I know there are differences in shape, trajectory, club head speed, but I finally gave up trying to digest all the information based on anatomy. It turns out that what I was really after was an answer to male scorn of women’s golf, plain and simple. I have watched Lorena, Michelle and Lexi  from a few feet away, and departed envious of both the length and finesse of their game. I would have welcomed a lesson from any of them. And, If you believe that the sense of competition is less fierce in the LPGA compared to the men’s game, you’re so wrong. It’s just that men feel and express it like men, and women like women. I’ll just end that point by saying that If you choose Brooke Henderson for your 18 hole challenge, you’d better wear a hockey mask and some padding. She’ll have you psyched out before your driver leaves the bag.

A lot of men, myself included, have spent  childhoods on the golf course dreaming vicariously of sharing something with the big PGA names of our generation. That, however, was childhood. We didn’t really share much of anything with the stars, but it was ok then. To use that imagined status now to downplay women’s golf is not ok, because at our best, we don’t share anything with them, either. They are vastly better golfers than we are. They hit if farther than we do, chip and putt better than we do, and in golf terms, are just flat out smarter than we are from tee to green. I have heard one or two men assert that women have generally weak short games as well. In all my weekends spent in LPGA galleries, I haven’t noticed it – sorry.

I know that all these millions of years later, we are still vigilant on protecting the cave from the saber-toothed tiger, but honestly guys, there aren’t many of those left. We can let it slide a little now. I guarantee that if you want to enjoy pro golf from a real perspective,  not the one you grew up with, you won’t go wrong watching any of the pro tours, and that goes equally for the LPGA.

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