It used to be unusual to turn on the television and catch coverage of an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) tour, but that’s not so anymore. Women are proving to be quite adept at golf and an exciting sport to watch, and networks and sponsors are catching on that people want to watch these talented women play. Of this season’s 34 women’s tournaments, only a handful won’t be televised.
The hottest golfer on the LPGA circuit right now is Annika Sorenstam, currently the 2005 leader. Swedish-born Sorenstam is only 34 and began playing golf at the age of 12. In 2004 she posted 16 top-ten finishes (including eight wins) in 18 tournaments, and earned a record-tying seventh Rolex Player of the Year award, tying Kathy Whitworth for the most in LPGA history. She was the first women’s player to earn more than $15 million, and halfway through 2005 has already earned nearly $1.6 million.
There are plenty of young women golfers following Sorenstam’s lead, realizing that women can also excel in what used to be known as a man’s sport. Players like Michelle Wie, Brittany Lang, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel are all beginning to make a name for themselves. Creamer, a 2005 high school graduate, had already earned more than half a million dollars this year alone by the time she took her diploma.
Many of these young women are coming up through the ranks of LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, a developmental junior golf program designed to not only teach girls the game of golf, but also life values such as patience, respect, perseverance and honesty. These girls are also learning to lead a physically-fit lifestyle. More than 4,500 girls ages 7-17 participate at 181 sites nationwide.
This is an exciting time for women’s golf and an opportunity for young players to make their mark in history.