Hey, USGA – Why no U.S. Women's Senior Open?
LPGA and Legends Tour legend, Jane Blalock is leading the charge for a U.S. Women’s Senior Open
The world is lousy with inequities, serious life-and-death inequities, many examples of which have been filling the news these past months.
When it comes to these unfair situations, pretty much anything related to golf ranks well down the list. Nevertheless, unfair is unfair, and one of the stark inequities in golf can serve as a microcosm of a larger, systemic injustice: the disparity between men and women.
Call it sexism, or call it business – call it whatever you want. The fact is that the USGA lists < ahref="http://www.usga.org” rel="nofollow” target="_blank">17 championships for 2014, but not included among these is a U.S. Women’s Senior Open. There’s a U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, but nothing for professional women players over the age of 45 or 50.
In case you weren’t aware, there is a < ahref="http://www.travelgolf.com/blogs/kiel.christianson/2013/07/06/legends-tour-championship-comes-to” rel="nofollow” target="_blank">Legends Tour, for women professionals over the age of 45. In fact, the 2014 Legends Tour Championship just finished up at the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Springs Resort.
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know this, though, as the women’s game gets far less media coverage than the men’s game. Again, maybe it’s just business. But still, I was covering the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open, when the winner, Meg Mallon, had to purchase a hat in the souvenir tent because she didn’t have a sponsor. Can you imagine the winner of the U.S. (Men’s) Open not having a sponsor?
LPGA great, Jane Blalock, is working hard to address the gender imbalance in Senior Opens. Blalock, who made a record 299 cuts on the LPGA Tour and won 29 times, founded The Legends Tour, and is growing ever more optimistic that a U.S. Senior Women’s Open will materialize. The USGA is considering creating such a championship, and president Tom O’Toole said meetings with Legends members on the topic at both Phoenix and Pinehurst, N.C., weren’t just “lip service” on the USGA’s part. The LPGA is supporting the Legends’ cause as well.
“There were a few different commissioners, and for a time the LPGA didn’t hurt us, but certainly didn’t help us, either,” said Blalock. “That’s changing now with Mike Whan (as commissioner). He’s a visionary, a go-getter. He’s got the Symetra Tour in good order and he’s picking up more tournaments for the LPGA. He knew he had to right his own ship, so now we’ll get more support.”
Since the two preliminary meetings with the USGA, Blalock said that Whan has asked her for more ammunition, “[W]hich I gave him…. We put together a powerful document. Now I feel it’s not if (we’ll get a U.S. Women’s Senior Open), but when.”
“I’m optimistic for the first time,” said Blalock, “and I want to get it in 2016 while Lopez is still playing. Can you imagine how much that would help our tour? The LPGA is talking about doing a championship for us, too. I met with Mike Whan in June, and he brought it up.”
The scales of Justice might never be fully balanced, even when it comes to golf. But every small victory over iniquitousness helps. A U.S. Women’s Senior Open would help a bit in leveling those scales.
(NOTE: Portions of this blog post appeared first in a press release by Fusion Media Strategies. Thank you to Fusion Media Strategies for sending the press release.)
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