Here are a variety of links I found concerning the announcements:
- Beth Ann Baldry's GolfWeek post from 1-5-11
- An Orlando Sentinel report from early 1-6-11
- Another Orlando Sentinel post from after Whan's announcement
- Emily Kay's Waggle Room post from after Whan's announcement
- Steve DiMeglio's USA Today post from after Whan's announcement
- Patty Berg: 7 wins, 3 as an amateur
- Louise Suggs: 4 wins, 1 as an amateur
- Babe Zaharias: 3 wins, 1 as an amateur
The real buzz has been about the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup because the players are going to play for free. Yes, you read that right. Here's the description in DiMeglio's words:
"Players in the tournament, a 54-hole stroke-play event which marks the organization's return to Arizona at the Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, will forgo purse money in favor of financially supporting the LPGA Foundation that runs the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. The tournament will be officially sanctioned, so players will earn points for player of the year, rookie of the year and the Rolex World Ranking. The money won will count on the money list. The tour will provide free rooms and a stipend to pay caddies."When I saw the announcement on TGC, I noticed that Whan was particularly excited about this. While many of the postings around the web question whether 132 players will really support it, Whan said the players have been discussing this for nearly half the year and are in favor of it. He said this year's tournament will double the size of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, and that the 2012 and 2013 events will triple and quadruple it, respectively. That's amazing.
If you're wondering how this idea got started, Whan said it actually came from the female pros who founded the LPGA. (Hence, the Founders Cup.) In talking with them, he said he was overwhelmed by how proud they were about what they left behind for the young girls coming after them. The idea was born from that -- a desire to build a groundswell of support for developing women's golf in the USA, not unlike the support other countries have given their national programs. (At least, that's my understanding of this.) Whan said they'd all be leaving the Tour better off than they found it, having an impact long after the name players of today were gone.
He also made it clear that he thinks this will improve the LPGA's marketability to sponsors as well, simply because it shows they're thinking about what they will have for sponsors in the future. Whether you agree with him or not (I think that depends on the foresight of the sponsors and their own belief in the future of the LPGA), this will certainly give this tournament a lot of buzz. A full-field event where the players don't get paid, yet the money list changes? It's outrageous... and newsworthy. The sponsor not only gets advertising, but possibly a huge charitable donation deduction. This event will almost certainly spark a huge round of debate on the sports shows, resulting in more press for the LPGA... which they need. Badly.
More importantly, it shows that the LPGA is willing to think outside the box and take some chances. They could be insane or they could be inspired beyond belief... but they're definitely going where no tour has gone before.
Could it be that the LPGA actually has more balls than the PGA? I guess time will tell.