Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at @shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we talk about the possibility of a LPGA event at Augusta National.
Busbee: You have to give it to LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan: the guy is one hell of an advocate for his sport, and he doesn't much care about traditional naysaying when he comes up with ideas to grow the women's game. Like this latest: a pitch to hold an LPGA event at Augusta National. At first glance--and probably fiftieth--that seems about as likely as a PETA board meeting at a Ruth's Chris steakhouse, but let's dig a little further. First, your thoughts.
Bacon: I'm 100 percent for it. If you just listen to what Whan says, it makes total sense, and I appreciate his approach to the cause. He isn't leaning on Augusta National and throwing the equality card at them, he's simply saying it would be awesome to see the best women in the world compete on the biggest stage in golf. He also admits that he's scared it might take something away from the Masters, which I also agree with, but I think the positive changes that Augusta have made over the last few years points to this happening in the near future. Are there negatives about this idea that I'm missing?
Busbee: The only negative is the perceived uniqueness of Augusta ... there's something to knowing that early April is the only time you're going to see that course in a tournament. But that's an aesthetic-diva complaint. The issue isn't whether it's a negative for the game of golf, it's whether Augusta would even consider such an idea. You think it's going to happen in the near future, I don't. I'd be surprised -- pleasantly, yes, but surprised all the same -- if this happens in the next 15 years. Then again, here's a thought: has anyone actually asked them?
Bacon: The other problem is the basic logistics of how Augusta National works. The golf course closes down for a good part of the year for a multitude of reasons (changes to the course, upkeep, etc.) and even the members aren't allowed out for a quick 18, so the women's event would have to be right around the same time as the Masters. I'd imagine they'd shoot for something after the men's event so that there isn't wear and tear on the course from the women's event, but it seems a little close to call for the green jackets.
Maybe it isn't in the near future, but I feel like Whan is simply bringing something up that isn't illogical. If the men get a spot at golf's highest stage, why not the women? And the reason I see it happening sooner than later is because if you would have asked me five years ago if Augusta National would have ever offered a membership to a women, I would have said no, and that has now happened twice. They're evolving, and this would be a huge, huge step for women's golf and the LPGA.
Busbee: I don't think it's going to happen any time soon ... to be blunt, what incentive is there for Augusta, other than the good of the game, to do this? Maybe "good of the game" is enough, but Augusta National has absolutely no need for a second tournament; there's no need for money or exposure, is there?
Still, the fact that this is even a feasible idea at all shows the growing strength of women's sports. I'd love to see it happen, but a full tournament is going to be as hard a sell to Augusta National as the inclusion of a woman ... and we saw how long that took.
Bacon: Maybe you're right. Maybe the idea is decades away, but I really think it'll happen one day and hope it does because it would be a beautiful moment in the history of golf and I would be hard-pressed to find someone I know that would be against it.
The LPGA and Augusta National; who would have ever thought this would be a possibility. Now give us your thoughts; is this a good idea or does it take away from the allure of the Masters?
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