I realize that this weekend finds the PGA Tour heading to greater Columbus, Ohio for The Memorial, which is Jack Nicklaus’ entry into the “This Should Be the Fifth Major” competition. From a purely golf perspective, there much to be said in support of this notion – the course, Muirfield Village, is probably the Golden Bear’s best architectural effort, and the strength of the field, while not as meaty as The Players (another pretender to the throne), is certainly stronger than that of The Masters.
Oh, and Tiger has announced that he’s playing, which automatically ensures that every Woods fanboy will drop what he’s doing to tune in, and we will be inundated with past highlights of his golfing conquests.
All of which comes at the expense of a concurrent significant golf event on the LPGA Tour, as the US Women’s Open will be conducted at The Country Club of Charleston [South Carolina]. And while I’m sure there will be all kinds of bombast (legitimate and otherwise) reported from The Memorial, I think it will be worth it for the serious golf aficionado to spend at least a few hours checking in on this event.
I say this flying into the face of some unfortunate observations from Sirius/XM radio host – and noted golf instructor – Hank Haney, who on his radio show stated that “I couldn’t name 4 players [on the LPGA tour]. Wait, yes I could, I’ll just go with Lee.” As The Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz remarked on Twitter, it’s not clear what’s worse, the racism or the sexism inherent in that remark.
Part of Haney’s remarks refer to the fact that there is indeed a strong influx of Asian players playing the LPGA Tour – most notably from South Korea, but others from Thailand and China. [NOTE: Haney’s most famous student is part Asian. You may have heard of him] Why this should be a detriment to watching the play of women professionals is a mystery to me – as with any competition, one should want to watch the best in their craft. Many observers more intelligent than I am have noted that most of us of either gender would benefit from mimicking the smooth tempo and on-plane swings of these players.
And it doesn’t take long to notice the individuality of Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Minjee Lee, the Jutanugarn sisters, and Shanshan Feng. Not to mention Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, and Charley Hull.
All of that aside – the LPGA takes us to some classic courses that are not in the PGA’s wheelhouse but would be great tests for the 99.99999 percent of the rest of us. The Country Club of Charleston is a great example of this; a Seth Raynor beauty that emphasizes strategy and shot making. Preliminary reports indicate that the USGA has set up wider than usual fairways, but the greens will be quick and the flag locations, well, “interesting.”
Oh – and as an extra special incentive, the two young women who thrilled us at the Augusta National Women’s Championship, Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi (who I believe is poised to be a charismatic star on the Nancy Lopez level) will be paired in their professional debuts this weekend.
I look forward to making time for both events this weekend. You should, as well.