Some of you may know that I’m a rabid fan of the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association. If you’ve read any of my books, you’re aware that I love to write about strong women. I also have a life-long love affair with the game of golf, so supporting the LPGA tour is a natural combination of these two interests.
Speaking of strong women, there are no weak sisters in the game of professional golf. Unlike professional team athletics, no one pays any of these ladies a salary to play. There are no guarantees. Their income is derived from their ability to win on the golf course and their ability to attract corporate sponsors, which is also related to winning on the golf course.
The elite players like Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park and Lydia Ko can earn multi-million dollar incomes, between their tournament winnings and their endorsements, but there aren’t many doing that. A number of them earn several hundred thousand dollars a year, but when you factor in their expenses in pursuit of their profession, this isn’t as great as it seems. And there are many more who are wonderful golfers with great skill who struggle to break even with expenses.
For a comparison, PGA Tour events generally pay over $1 million for first prize, compared with $180K to $300K for most LPGA events. The ladies’ skills are on a par with the men’s, but they haven’t caught the public’s eye to the same extent, so the money isn’t there for them.
Next week, I get to repay some of the pleasure these ladies have given me through the years. The Volunteers of American North Texas Shootout will be played in Irving, and, much as I dislike driving in Dallas County, I’ll be going over there every day to work the tournament as a volunteer.
This will be my third year to do so. The first year I served as a marshal. Realizing the walking, standing, and climbing hills was a bit much for my aging body, I repented of that after one year. Last year, I drove a golf cart shuttling marshals around the course. (Where was this shuttle service when I was a marshal?)
This year, I volunteered for the same shuttle service, but they changed the game on me. Instead of hauling marshals, my job is to be available to people with disabilities, giving them rides to wherever they need to go. I’ll probably spend a lot more time sitting in one place and less driving around the course, so I’m not sure how much I’ll enjoy it.
One of the perks of doing this is that I get to see these ladies in person whom I admire on television the rest of the year. On the tournament days, Thursday through Sunday, we can’t disturb their concentration by talking to them, but Monday through Wednesday, we’re free to talk to them if we’d like. I look forward to that.
Two years ago I became a big Morgan Pressel fan. I hadn’t been before that, but I watched her spend some ten minutes or so showing one of her amateur partners in the pro-am how to hit out of a sand trap. She could have been practicing her putting or some such thing, but she cheerfully gave this gentleman of her time. I decided right then that she was the type of person I respected, and I’ve been a big fan ever since.
What athletic events have you worked? What star athletes have you met?
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