Ty Votaw's wishy washy LPGA logic at World Match Play
Ty Votaw is a public relations man’s dream. He shows up at his press conferences looking like he stepped straight off the pages of GQ. He’s not salesman charming, he’s mother charming.
If you were lucky enough to be this guy’s wing man in college, you’d have been a happy fellow indeed.
But that doesn’t necessarily translate into the stuff of great commissioners. Or hide how Votaw sometimes sounds as logical as Yogi the Bear when he’s attempting to rationalize away the LPGA’s popularity problems.
Asked about a 2004 Scarborough Sports Marketing survey highlighted in the Newark Star-Ledger that showed only six percent of sports fans followed the LPGA, Votaw flashed his dexterity and little else.
“First, you have to understand that golf is a niche sport,'’ Votaw said. “Only 28 million people in this country play the game. And if we started at two percent, for sake of argument, and have gotten up to six percent, we have to keep working and figure out how to bring that six percent to 10 percent and then beyond.”
Votaw then brought up the ratings for the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open: a 2.3. While this is the highest rating since 1997 and the kind of number hockey would salivate over, it’s still far below the 8.0 the U.S. Men’s Open averages.
So golf must not be such a niche sport when it comes to the men’s tour?
Before you can fix a problem, you have to admit there is one. This is the kind of thing backers of the women’s game should worry about as Votaw takes his ceremonial last laps on tour. Downplaying obvious issues only takes away from the strides Votaw should be proud of: like the record $500,000 first-place check at the HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship which started today in New Jersey.
Votaw should be bothered that only 12 people followed the most dominant golfer in the world around Hamilton Farm Golf Club in a pro-am round yesterday. Annika Sorenstam is women’s golf’s Babe Ruth. She deserves more fanfare.
And that six percent should rise plenty of eyebrows. That’s not six percent of the general population. That’s six percent of sports fans.
For more on TravelGolf.com’s talk with Votaw at the World Match Play, stay tuned to the sites.
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Too bad that the purest and most exciting form of golf competition, viz., match play, can lead to a "no name" and a unfulfilled "star of the future" (six years ago and little since) can meet in the final match. Ratings: zippo.
Those who did tune in (me, for example) were treated to a tight, well-played match. If the two who played that match were named Sorenstam and Gulbis, or Creamer and Wie the Golf Channel would be in melt-down in the Post Game activities.
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