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Monitor Board of Contributors

Exploit these women!

Players on the Symetra tour are attractive, athletic and marketable. Madison Avenue could have a field day.

  • Britney Hamilton takes a shot from the sandtrap Saturday afternoon during the Symetra LPGA Tour at Beaver Meadows Golf Course.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Concord Monitor)

    Britney Hamilton takes a shot from the sandtrap Saturday afternoon during the Symetra LPGA Tour at Beaver Meadows Golf Course. (Karen Bobotas/for the Concord Monitor)

  • Britney Hamilton takes a shot from the sandtrap Saturday afternoon during the Symetra LPGA Tour at Beaver Meadows Golf Course.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Concord Monitor)

Professional golf needs to exploit women. By “exploit,” I mean shamelessly use the female gender to make tons and tons of additional dough. Is that wrong?

Last month I had the chance to play in the local pro-am golf tournament produced by Concord’s local Rotary Club. The pro-am is connected to the Symetra Tour’s Northeast Delta Dental International event at Beaver Meadow, and it typically involves teams of four men paired with a single female professional golfer.

My team of four local manly men watched with unsurprised appreciation as our pro, weighing in at about 50 percent of our average body mass, launched pinpoint drives over our best efforts and stuck approach shots within inches – all with a rhythm that underscores a basic truth about golf. It is not how strong you are – it is how smooth you swing.

Now, as a manly man, I’m simply going to tell you that looking around that tournament, there was a phalanx of attractive, athletic, eminently marketable young women.

Shoot me for saying so, but Madison Avenue should be having a complete field day with these athletes and their compatriots on the LGPA tour.

They are appealing, skilled and, important for my point here, they are playing a game that all of us can actually play and follow.

So just think about this, and react to it as a sports fan. Suppose one of the backwater PGA Tour events – your Quad Cities, your St. Jude’s, whatever – changes its format to a combined PGA/LPGA event. It invites a 50 percent female field, and it makes one – and only one – concession to reality. The organizers give the women a tee box that reflects the average differential in driving distances between the two tours. Otherwise, game on.

Suddenly, hole after hole, shot after shot, the women are going head to head with the PGA’s best – and not in some silly made-for-TV event, but for the real enchilada. The women will shine, because course management, shot-making, pitching, putting and guts have no gender bias.

The results will be far more interesting to watch than another dreary third-tier PGA event. When a woman threatens to win the tournament – the John Deer Classic, say – suddenly it becomes must-see TV. And when a woman actually faces down a Tiger or a Phil and takes the thing, the John Deer Classic threatens the Masters and PGA Championship as a fourth major. Judged by its advertising dollars, it runs right past them in short order.

By exploiting women this way, golf would be exploiting something else: its inherent ability to create intriguing competition. Unlike most sports, golf can offer up a “handicap” – a shaping of the playing field that maximizes competitive opportunities.

It works fine in horse racing, and it would work splendidly, and incredibly profitably, with professional golf.

I, for one, promise I’ll tune in – with both my daughters in tow, intent on reinforcing an even larger message about the power and potential of women.

Is that wrong?

(M. Curtis Whittaker heads the Energy Practice Group at Rath, Young & Pignatelli in Concord.)

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