Folks, there is smoke belching from the engine room of the good ship LPGA - and the Captain of the ship is nowhere to be found. Although I have long been a huge fan of the ladies tour (see one of my first posts here), and was slow to acknowledge the early naysayers, there is no denying now that there are serious problems afoot. To wit:
- Multiple events cancelled in 2009
- No sponsor for one of the LPGA major events
- Confusing (and worsening) TV Coverage schedule
- A 2010 schedule that is melting faster than the wicked witch in a monsoon
- Seeming lack of identity / presence in the U.S.
Not making things any easier is the fact that the most marketable / talented U.S. players (Creamer,Kerr,Pressel,Gulbis, Wie (yes,I really wrote that),Lewis, etc ) have not been winning much lately - as recently as this weekend, Morgan Pressel lost in a playoff. Couple that with a flood of players from the Far East (and don't call me racist,ok - this is just a fact) and you have an organization sorely lacking a marketable identity in the eyes of U.S. consumers.
The latest news (and perhaps this is a sign of better times ahead) is that the players have (finally) grown tired of the (lack of) leadership from Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. I've been fervently wishing for a change here, and maybe change is a comin'. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that a meeting was held last week in Sylvania,OH (home of the Jamie Farr Classic) in which the players wrote to LPGA President Michelle Ellisthey had "lost faith in Bivens' leadership and policies". For the sake of the LPGA, let's all hope this is true. Bivens mismanagement, poor decisions, and total lack of a strong presence in a time of crisis is laughable - the game and the LPGA deserves so much better than this.
The sad part to of this to me is that on an amateur level, interest in the ladies game appears stronger than ever. More quality female players are out there, better equipment is available for them,and female golfers are more welcome than ever on the links. Couple that with some awesome young talent on both the LPGA and Duramed Futures tour, and you can see why this is so frustrating. Rather than roll around in our own misery here at BCC, however, we have decided to prescribe a cure for the LPGA. Here are our 5 suggestions:
BUSHWOOD'S "CURE FOR PAIN" FOR THE LPGA
- Fire Carolyn Bivens immediately - she has placed your livelihood in a death spiral.
- Form an Executive Oversight committee to redefine your business model. This would be made up of Players (male and female, current and past pros), Golf Equipment Execs, and Sponsor Execs. This committee should first seek to understand what each group can contribute and what each group needs to participate - thus defining your business model and the skill set needed for your Commissioner.
- Hire a Commissioner who can create a Strategic Plan for the business model - one who appreciates and understands all three perspectives (players, manufacturers, and sponsors).
- Accept the fact that the game is globalizing, and make that a strength - not a liability.
- Develop a plan to market the players and the game more effectively - The "These Girls Rock" campaign was, I thought, pretty good - but it simply died on the vine and had no sustainability.
These are pretty basic business turnaround fundamentals, and clearly something that the players deserve and should have expected to receive from the beginning. Bushwood has long been an LPGA supporter, and we will redouble our efforts here to back them...I can only hope that things improve fast for all of the talented players of the LPGA...