Ladies European Tour
Nov 18th, 2019
LET’s Race to Oblivion
European Golfers have been failed
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
This coming weekend the LPGA Tour reaches its climax at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. The winner will pick up a cheque for a cool $1.5 million. Meanwhile, the members of the ladies European Tour are sitting out yet another week. Their last event was the Hero Women’s Indian Open back at the beginning of October.
The LPGA has its Race to the CME Globe and the same weekend the European men will complete the Race to Dubai with its multi million dollar prize pot. What does the ladies European Tour offer other than a Race to Nowhere?
In 2008 the LET consisted of 28 events, staged in 21 different countries and a total purse of €11.6 million. Ten years later and the tour had shed 13 events only visited 9 countries and the total prize pot stood at €11.5 million.
During this period, Europe won the Solheim Cup in 2011 at Killeen Castle in Ireland and then trounced the USA in the 2013 event at the Colorado Golf Club. Given the strength of European women’s golf at the time it is mind boggling that the LET rather growing the tour and bringing more money into the game, basically stagnated and then went in to decline.
Clearly, the player are not happy as demonstrated by the tweet sent out by Meghan MacLaren after Tommy Fleetwood's victory in South Africa. She makes a very valid point.
Ivan Khodabakhsh was ousted as Chief Executive in August 2017 and Chairman, Mark Lichtenhein took over on an interim. His ‘interim’ role ran through to the Solheim Cup this year after which he stepped down. The press release from the LET announcing Lichtenhein was stepping down stated:
‘During his tenure, Lichtenhein has overseen a complete overhaul of the governance of the LET bringing it in line with best practice in the sports industry, reinvigorated the LET’s commercial programme and conducted a strategic review of the LET’s business.’
A somewhat desperate attempt to come up with something positive to say about the outgoing Chief Executive and basically paper over the cracks of what was a disastrous tenure. Of course, he has been made a lifetime honorary member of the LET!
One of Lichtenhein’s biggest decisions was in 2018 to rebut the joint approach from the men’s European Tour, LPGA and R&A to take over the running of the tour. It was clearly not in line with the strategic review mentioned above.
Reports have it that the talks have been rekindled in the wake of the recent Solheim Cup success. Looking at the schedule of events the LET is clearly in a weaker position now and so must seriously consider letting this takeover happen. There are a lot of unknowns in how it might work but it surely can’t be any worse than it is now.
The inescapable conclusion must be that the women’s game in Europe has been run by incompetents and a lot of talented young women golfers have been let down. Given the current climate and huge focus on gender inequality it beggars belief that more sponsors could not have been attracted despite the woeful media coverage (there’s another whole story).
Let’s hope that the new CEO, when found, can inject some life back into the LET and lead the conversations with the European Tour, LPGA and R&A. Otherwise, the LET will have its own race and that is a Race to Oblivion.
And snother thing....