Women’s Golf Is In Trouble

Europe's Largest Golf Tour For Women Is On The Brink of Collapse

Ladies European Tour golfer Catriona Matthew. Image by Wojciech Migda/Wikimedia Commons.

Three months ago, while covering a Ladies European Tour event in Morocco, I caught up with a friend whom I used to play with on tour. After some initial small talk, our conversation got serious when I asked her how she was enjoying playing on the LET.


“To be honest with you,” she said under her breath, “I’m really nervous that we won’t have a tour to play on next year. We keep losing tournaments, and we don’t know the rest of the schedule for our season because we don’t have confirmed sponsors for our events or even designated courses,” she said.

The LET seems to have found itself in disarray. This was a tour that players loved to play on and a tour that players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association would play during their off weeks.

But a downturn was coming. This year, the LET had 15 events scheduled, down 11 events from six years ago. Plus, the rest of the tournaments for the season are not guaranteed, and many of them are co-sanctioned with the LPGA, which guarantees spots for LPGA players. This means the ladies playing on the LET have to make the most of every tournament they can get. Even worse, only six of the tournaments are actually played in Europe; the rest are scheduled in Dubai, India, Abu Dhabi, Japan, China, Australia, and Thailand. The already sparse schedule limits the earning potential for players on the tour and adds to the costs for players.

Many players believe the tour’s troubles began when Ivan Khodabakhsh took over the tour as CEO in 2012. Formerly the CEO of the World Series of Boxing, Khodabakhsh’s background in golf was limited, if not nonexistent. Players began organizing to have Khodabakhsh removed, and last week, it was announced he Khodabakhsh was leaving the tour.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]A lot of players are concerned and confused more than anything because we don't know what's going on.[/quote]

Catriona Matthew, a longtime LET member and major winner, said to the Golf Channel, “[The LET] have got a lot of good players. It’s just perhaps they have had the wrong person at the head. So, hopefully, if they can get that resolved, it can start building itself up again.”

Still, players are confused by what has transpired over the last few years. “I know the LET tries hard and it's of course not their intention to lose the tournaments, but the thing I can say is that there is definitely something that went wrong the last few years. But as a player it's hard to say why,” says Anne van Dam, from the Netherlands, who joined the LET in 2015.

Sally Watson, from Scotland, believes other contributing factors outside of leadership have led to the tour’s issues: “I believe that the strategy of expanding the tour into Asia, where the events only have a limited LET field, has created a situation where it is extremely challenging for young players to break through as they had a significantly less number of playing opportunities as established players. I also think that focusing on the Asian market may have taken time and energy away from strengthening the tour's position in Europe.”

Players aren’t exactly certain how the tour found itself in its current position, and some are frustrated with how tight-lipped LET officials have been, which has served only to create uncertainty and confusion.

“A lot of players are concerned and confused more than anything because we don't know what's going on behind the scenes,” explained one player anonymously. “Most things are confidential, so we only get news when it's officially announced.”

One of the greater concerns regarding the future of the tour is how it will affect the growth of women’s golf in Europe if players there don’t have a tour to play on.

“The challenges to turning professional, especially the financial challenges, would only be heightened, in my opinion, were there no longer an option to play professional golf in Europe. Unless a young European female professional were to earn her LPGA card at her first attempt, the costs of trying to make a career playing professional golf would increase significantly, but even more potentially damaging would simply be the loss of playing opportunities to female professionals,” Watson says.

Amelia Lewis from the LPGA tour. Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr.

American golfer Amelia Lewis, who plays full-time on the LPGA and also in LET events during off weeks, says, “Thankfully I have a full-time job on the LPGA. But I know for a lot of players, they are scared about next season and if they’ll even have a tour to play on.”

As a result of this, Lewis believes a lot of European players will try to qualify for the LPGA or play on the LPGA’s developmental circuit, the Symetra tour.

“I know a lot of girls who are going to qualifying school for LPGA this season so they have a chance to make a living,” Lewis says. “This means a lot of players will have to step outside of their comfort zone of playing in Europe, or they will have to stop playing golf.”

Many LET players are hoping the organization looks toward the LPGA for guidance. Under the leadership of tour commissioner Michael Whan, the LPGA has added 10 new events since 2011, with 35 total tournaments. Their purse prizes have also seen a large increase: $67.35 million for the 2017 season, up from $41.5 million in 2011.

“I believe leadership starts at the top and trickles down,” Lewis says. “Mike Whan is such a good representative for the LPGA, and people are attracted to him and want to be involved. I really think that’s why the LPGA is doing so well. Basically, the LET needs their own version of Mike Whan.”

For Van Dam, she believes the LET will grow again if players stick together and make sacrifices in terms of purse prizes. “We need to come all together, stay positive and need to prioritize getting as many events in Europe as possible, even if that means lower purses.”

With that in mind, Van Dam added, “But to truly get back on track, we need to be able to show Europe how well the Europeans can play.”

But for now, the uncertainty lingering is leaving players with little optimism that they will have the opportunity to showcase their talent next year, and they have no choice but to wait it out.

Last week, the LPGA and the Men’s European tour are looking for a way to partner and help save the LET.

“I don’t really have a timeline for this. I do hope that before the end of the year we can sit down with them and say, ‘Here is the way we see it. Is this something you think we can do together?’” Whan said.

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

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While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


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via zoezimmm / imgur


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The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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