LET’s success proves doubters wrong
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The European Tour has garnered many headlines this season, and rightly so. Very little has been written about the Ladies European Tour, but the LET is a success story in its own right.
Europe’s best women golfers played in 26 tournaments this year. That might pale in comparison to the 49 the men played, but it’s a runaway success considering where the Tour was a few years ago.
It isn’t too long ago that people like me were writing the LET’s obituary. Europe’s best women only played in 14 tournaments in 2002, same in 2003.
The writing seemed to be on the wall, considering economic times were considerably better then now. So for the LET to be playing 26 events in these financially challenged times is a credit to LET executive director Alexandra Armas and the team behind her.
Many were unsure of Armas’ qualifications to take the LET forward when she was selected for the top post in 2005.
Armas played the LET for a few years before being appointed executive director. She seemed to have very little business experience to be put in charge. However, she graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and also holds a masters degree in business.
Looks like the Spaniard has put her education to good use, and proved the doubters wrong.
Perhaps, the most pleasing aspect of the LET in the last few years concerns the number of good young stars coming through the ranks. Armas can point to a number of young Europeans competing on the LET who have the potential to become world-class stars.
England’s Melissa Reid finished third on this year’s Order of Merit. Compatriot Florentyna Parker was 8th. Reid is just 23. Parker is even younger at 21. Holland’s Christel Boeljon is 23. She finished 12th on this year’s money list. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Crystal Caithness of Scotland finished 32nd.
The names above represent the new blood, but there is still room on the tour for English legends such as Laura Davies and Trish Johnson. Davies won five times this year, while Johnson had two victories.
European golf needs a healthy LET. Why? Because its players hopefully can serve as role models and inspire girls to take up the game. Encouraging girls to participate remains a huge challenge, and that’s certainly the case in the British Isles. Success for Reid, Parker, Caithness and others is vitally important and could prove to be the missing catalyst for change.
The LET is still the weaker sister to the LPGA, of that there can be no doubt. However, considering where it was just a few years ago, it is nothing short of a runaway success story. Sadly, a story that doesn’t get told often enough.