Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Women’s Golf: Bigger Than You Think

Posted on August 09, 2013 by Daniel Lofthouse
Cheyenne Woods is part of the next generation of LPGA stars.

Cheyenne Woods is part of the next generation of LPGA stars.

While the world watched a varied mix of male and female athletes from countries across the world competing for the ultimate glory at last year’s Olympic Games in London, it’s hard to think of a professional sport that’s not dominated by men. Though increasing numbers of women enjoy such traditionally male-centric sports as football, motor racing, ice hockey and basketball and compete more than competently at a professional level, the focus of the world’s sports enthusiasts remains solely centred on men.

For a long time, it’s been the same for one of the most traditionally-minded sports around – golf. Indeed, on the more conservative edges of the sport, you still might find men-only clubs – albeit a tiny number around 1%. Yet things are shaking up for women who play the game in a big way.

Take, for example, one famous name – Cheyenne Woods, niece of none other than the legendary Tiger. She’s 24 years old – the same age her famous uncle was when he finished the season with eight wins – and the daughter of Tiger Woods’ half-brother, Earl Dennison Woods Jr. Like many a famous relative, she’s eager to step out of the shadow of the family name and make her own name for herself in women’s professional golf. Having grown up surrounded by golf, and coached in the sport by Tiger’s father Earl, she already has more than 30 amateur titles to her name. Now she faces her first full pro season, having entered the prestigious Ladies European Tour.

But women’s golf, as Woods recently found out, can be every bit as competitive as the men’s game. Perhaps it was down to the pressures of the professional environment, as she unfortunately failed to build a firm foundation for the season – finishing 16th at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club and missing out on a place in the British Open a few days later at Kingsbarns.

Inbee Park has won three LPGA majors in 2013.

Inbee Park has won three LPGA majors in 2013.

Elsewhere, however, some female golfers are finding nothing but success. Another young golfer, South Korea’s Inbee Park, has gone from success to success on the pro circuit. This year has seen a stunning string of victories for Park, racking up the Kraft Nabisco, Ladies’ PGA and U.S. Women’s Open championships.

This kind of talent in the men’s game would bring the camera crews running – and to their credit, the media have been catching up on the pure talent that’s evident in women’s golf. Park’s appearance in the recent Ricoh Women’s British Open saw a scrum of media from the US, UK and – of course – South Korea rush to cover the sport. Even retailers are getting in on the action, with shops like 118 Golf Store offering an array of professional-grade equipment for women golfers. Much maligned for many years, women’s golf is evolving into something to keep an eye out for.

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