Seven countries bid for 2011 Solheim Cup
Rumors of the LPGA and women's golf's demise are greatly exaggerated as a record seven different European countries have thrown their hat into the ring to host the 2011 Solheim Cup.
Perhaps nothing speaks so soundly to the growth of the game with women, and further with women abroad, than this well deserved rush. Besides the usual suspects England, Ireland and Scotland, four other nations - Northern Ireland, Norway, Italy and Spain have been accepted as finalists.
There is so much more to women's golf than just Michelle Wie's trying to play in men's events at the highest level and whether Annika can win a grand slam that great stories and true historic moments fall by the wayside to pipe dreams of marketers and gender warriors. While people TRY to tell you that it will be the death of women's golf if Wie doesn't get to play in a men's major and Annika doesn't win the Grand Slam - the opposite is true.
Always keep in mind two simple truths about sportswriters - they are paid to hype and sell what you just saw as the greatest thing ever and they hate to be wrong about what they have self anointed. In this case, they have actually done women's golf a disservice by harping on that the ONLY stories that matter are Wie and Annika.
Michelle Wie is a fine golfer and someday will make the cut in a men's event, but in the grand scheme of things, so what? It has the same cache to the American sports fan as the one time a woman dunked in a women's professional game. A footnote. A trivial pursuit "wedge slice" answer.
Growth of the game is not measured whether one woman "beats the men" for the first time. Growth of the game is measured on a large scale. Are ALL women playing better? (Answer: yes!) Are more women playing better? (Answer: Yes!) Are more women playing to the same level as men and not just one or two? (Not yet...at least not on tours.)
The forest has to be made of a grove of mighty trees to stand strong. One tree does not a forest make. Wie might actually make it to the PGA tour faster if she goes to Q school and earns a card. She would spend more time with the boys then too...obviously. It seems to be what she really wants.
I think it fair to say her fan base would increase too! She would be seen as really earning it - not cashing in on favors that should rightfully be spread out to other deserving women. Why just Wie? Why not Morgan? Why not Paula? Why is it ALWAYS Michelle? If you think for one second Paula Creamer wouldn't sell as many tickets if not more, you need to watch her play right now. She's far more energetic, articulate and effervescent than Michelle. (Here's an idea that might prove a GREAT litmus test to the gender warriors. Why not give the winner of the previous Women's U.S. Open a bid to the next years Men's U.S. Open?)
Nevertheless, I think Wie would be great battling it out weekends at Bulle Rock and Oak Tree and Corning with Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, not playing just a bunch of Thursday-Fridays with the guys.
Just because TV ratings in the U.S. for golf don't reach the heights of the four major men's sports is no reason to say the sky is falling either. More people watch women's golf than any other women's sport on the planet. They trounce basketball. They decimate softball. Volleyball? Puh-leeeze. The only women's sport with the same cache is tennis.
Indeed, we are only BEGINNING to see a dynamic rise in women actually taking up the game and competing at the high school and collegiate level - let alone the record number of women who took up the game last year as a pasttime. Women are flocking to the game and are playing damn well to boot.
Want proof? Seven countries will vie for the Solheim. This is a wonderful oppurtunity to showcase a great seaside links or other course with strong architecture - something different that we wouldn't otherwise see. How much fun will it be for the world to see Royal County Down? Or Ballybunion? Or Royal Dornoch? Or St. Enodoc's? (stop me anytime).
So the next time somebody tries to run some stale ESPN jive past you, just point out seven countries are vying for the rights to host the Solheim.
Then see if they even know what the Solheim is...if the only thing they know about women's golf is Annika and Wie, maybe they aren't as big a women's golf fan as they try to let on.