Here at Golf Advisor, we pretty much think about golf all the time. So if we could get away with it, and didn't have to write, edit, and attend meetings, not to mention family obligations, all of us would pretty much watch golf day and night if it was available.
Well, we're actually in a stretch where you can just about do that since the LPGA Tour is in the middle of a western swing that includes California and Hawaii and means for many of us in the eastern part of the United States, we're getting all those tournaments' live coverage in prime time. Among those events is the LPGA's first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. It's a great field (the top 25 players in the Rolex World Rankings are expected to tee it up), and a compelling event (Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg won last year in playoff that took eight holes). If you haven't been watching much women's golf, this would be a great time to check in.
But besides being the first major of the year and in prime time, I think there are other reasons golf fans should watch women's golf, especially if you're trying to learn something for your own game. Here are seven:
1. It's more relatable
In no way am I diminishing the skills of LPGA players, but by in large, average golfers should be able to relate to their games better because most of them aren't hitting it 300 yards plus off the tee or pulling 9-irons for approach shots of 178 yards like they do on the PGA Tour. Sure, the no. 1 player on the tour, Sung Hyun Park of South Korea, averages nearly 282 yards off the tee (which means she hits it 300 quite often), but that's not the norm. Most players are like the U.S.'s Christie Kerr and Cheyenne Woods (Tiger's niece) and average somewhere around 250-265 yards, which seems mortal.
2. Lessons in tempo
The amazing part to me about watching the women play, though, is that most of them seem to have great tempo, which translates well into anyone's game. Good tempo, of course, isn't a matter of swinging slow, but swinging in rhythm. Most LPGA players are the model for this. Not that most PGA Tour players don't have a good tempo – they do, or they wouldn't be the best in the world – but it's more apparent with the ladies. At least that's my take.
3. They play cool courses
The venues for the LPGA have been getting better and better, especially in regards to the Ricoh Women's British Open, but also at events throughout the calendar year. Many of these courses are resort or public venues the public can play, and tee times are typically more affordable compared to PGA Tour venues, most of which run over $200 easily.
4. Women competing at Augusta now
This week marks the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur in Augusta, Ga. First of all, the Masters is one of my very favorite sporting events of any kind, and much of that is due to the course. So it'll be interesting to see the top women amateurs playing Augusta National Golf Club during the final round on April 6. (The first two rounds of the 54-hole event are being played at nearby Champions Retreat.) NBC Sports will providing live coverage from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, so I'm definitely going to want to tune in for that. It'll be interesting to see how they play the course vs. the men, who will be playing a week later. Again, that might be more relatable for me if and when I ever get to play Augusta. Golf Channel, of course, will provide highlights, live reports and news coverage during the entire event.
5. Judy Rankin’s insight
I'm old enough to remember Judy Rankin as a player and she was great despite never capturing a major, having won 26 times on the tour. But it seems like she's been doing TV for even longer. And not just women's events; Rankin, who first went on the air in 1984, is a veteran of the PGA Tour as well, having covered events for ESPN and ABC as well as becoming the lead analyst for the Golf Channel on LPGA events in 2010. In fact, I've always felt like she was one of the best all-time on-course reporters or any tour, but she's terrific as the lead analyst on LPGA events. I'm looking forward to her insight at this week's ANA Inspiration.
6. Ladies' short games seem simpler
I wouldn't begin to suggest that the ladies have better short games than the men, but you see more percentage plays with the women, which is a great lesson for us everyday hackers. They seem more likely to play the chip and run rather than bring in the low lob wedge for the one skip and stop. It's not they can't do that – they certainly can – but it seems to me they'll hit the less lofted clubs around the greens when the situation calls for it more often than the guys do.
7. These players have stories to tell
A lot of folks don't watch the LPGA Tour because they don't know the players. Some cite the fact that Asian players seem to dominate the tour and they just don't know much about them, but the truth is that many of these young ladies on the tour have interesting personalities and stories to tell. I love, for example, how at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup two weeks ago at Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott in Phoenix, as they came off the 18th green, they spent a few minutes sharing hugs with LPGA founders Marilynn Smith, Marlene Hagge and Shirley Spork. I like how sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda have an annual bet to see who has the best season (Nelly is currently second on the LPGA money list this year, by the way). And a few of these players of are moms, and that's one of the toughest jobs in the world.
Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr are mothers who play, as is the legendary Juli Inkster, who raised her kids to adulthood durng her illustrious career.
Gerina Piller, whose husband Martin is also a tour player, just returned to the LPGA Tour with her baby boy A.J. (Ajeo James) in tow. She has a great sense of humor. When asked about what skill came back the quickest after a year off, she replied, "probably putting my shoes back on."