I must admit, I haven’t always been a fan of watching women’s golf. Maybe there was a bit of male ego going on, which is not something I’m proud of.
But for whatever reason, I wasn’t paying much heed to the LPGA Tour, or any other Tour for that matter. That has changed though. While it would be an exaggeration to say I’m an avid viewer of the women’s game, I’m definitely paying a lot more attention than I used to.
I always seem to end up watching the ANA Inspiration – what used to be the Dinah Shore – just before the Masters. And I’ve been paying particular note of the US Women’s Open the last few years, if only to hear what Johnny Miller is saying. He’s always interesting. So if it comes to a choice between watching the women’s tour or the PGA Tour – especially Thursdays and Fridays – I’m switching over to the LPGA.
I take it all in. I love watching the swings and how the women plot their way round the course. Plus, they put on a better show than the men, at least in some respects. They are more demonstrative. And I’m always excited to see a woman golfer who impresses me, one who hits the ball with the right spin – which is hard to do with a lower swing speed – and flight.
Playing golf is not the coolest thing you can do as a young girl, so anyone who has learned to play “properly” has my admiration on more than one level.
The last ten years has seen a huge growth in the number of really good golfers in the women’s game. For a while there it seemed like it was just Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam. Then there was Lorena Ochoa. But now there are many fine players to watch. I especially like to see them hit shots with hybrids. It’s a joke how talented they are with those clubs.
I’m actually prepared to believe that Lydia Ko (pictured right) is better than the vast majority of male pros from, say, 200-yards out. She is ridiculously good. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the top women players consistently hit closer to where they are aiming than do the top guys.
I was always a fan of watching Karrie play. She was and is a “real” golfer, with a great natural motion but Brooke Henderson is my favourite at the moment.
She has such a great, old-school ‘lag’ in her swing. It’s a bit like Ben Hogan swung, or Sergio Garcia. She hits the ball hard and seems able to produce draws and fades when they are required. She seems to be completely untouched by coaches and cameras and ‘rips’ at the ball the way she wants to. She doesn’t ‘place’ the club anywhere; she swings it in such a beautiful uninhibited way.
I actually went out to watch Brooke when the LPGA came to Phoenix for the Founders Cup back in March. I spent some time on the range taking in how the women went out about preparing for their rounds. It was soon obvious how analytical the Koreans were, which is something that seems to be easier to pick out with the women than the men.
In general, PGA Tour players all do pretty much the same thing before a tournament round. They put an aiming stick on the ground, then work their way through the bag. It’s very regimented. But the women are different. They were doing all sorts of things, but it was Brooke that held my attention most. As soon as I saw her hit one shot, it was obvious she is special. The noise as her club hit the ball was different from anyone else I watched. She squashed it properly.
Since then, I’ve taken an interest in how Brooke has been doing. But I like Lydia too. She is so unflappable and doesn’t get annoyed (which is something I can learn from).
So Yeon Ryu is another player I look out for. Her Aussie caddie, Tom Watson, is someone I know, but mostly I just love watching her swing. Her motion is as good as almost any man. She rips it.
Another thing I like about the women’s game is that, much more than the men, they seem to be edging gradually towards a world tour. They are hugely popular in Asia – more than the men – and that is great to see. The women are more accessible than the men too, way less precious. They talk to the spectators, sign every autograph and understand they have to promote their Tour.
The LPGA Tour is just a really good product these days. I wish I had started watching sooner. But I’m making up for it now.