Geoff Ogilvy: Mixed golf events will improve health of the game
Geoff Ogilvy has long been lauded as one of the most thoughtful figures in pro golf, often sharing his astute opinions on golf course architecture and the professional game. This week, Ogilvy is campaigning for a greater appreciation of women’s golf.
As a competitor in this week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open, which hosts a women’s event at the same time as a men’s even at 13th Beach Golf Club in Australia, Ogilvy has a front row seat to some of the best female golfers on the planet. His conclusion is simple: golf should reconsider some of its longest standing traditions to help elevate the women’s game.
In an article he penned for LPGA.com, Ogilvy cites how his appreciation for the women’s game has advanced over the years. At first he’d watch the major championships, but now he pays far more attention, thanks in part to the 2014 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Opens being held back-to-back at Pinehurst.
“Not only could the men and women compete on the same course, they could do it under virtually identical conditions,” Ogilvy said.
“Now, here at the ISPS Handa Vic Open, they’re doing it simultaneously.”
This is a mindset that has been shared by many women in golf, but not nearly as many men. Recall that the 2014 Open saw Martin Kaymer win just days before Michelle Wie triumphed on the same course.
Ogilvy, who missed the cut that week, was quickly fascinated to watch the women play the course that had just befuddled so many men. This week is much the same for him, sans the missed cut. Ogilvy has carded consecutive 67s to start, but is hardly concerned with just his own game.
“When I’m at a golf tournament now, I’m watching other people play just as much as I’m playing myself,” Ogilvy wrote. “Last year at the Vic Open and again this week, I found that all I wanted to do was watch the women and how they went about it. Some of them are just machines. They don’t hit bad shots.
“I watched one after another hit hybrids onto greens to 10 feet. Men don’t play that way. When I hit a hybrid, I’m happy to hit it anywhere on the green. So, for those who haven’t watched the best women in the game, there is something to be learnt from both men and women, and there’s enjoyment in watching both styles of play.”
The LPGA Tour has certainly never been healthier, but in terms of sponsorship dollars it still comes up very shy of the prominent male tours, which is another sticking point for Ogilvy. He looks to tennis’ major championships as a sound goal for golf.
At grand slam events in tennis, the men and women play at the same time, at the same place, and for the same amount of prize money. For that to change, Ogvily says, there needs to be a change in attitude: “Once the mindset changes, the money will certainly follow.”
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