Female golfer really excited to compete against men in PGA

This story is admittedly a bit far afield from most of our political concerns, but it deals with a topic that comes up on a regular basis. The opening round of the Barbasol Championship, a PGA tour stop played at the Keene Trace Golf Club in Kentucky, tees off today. It’s not one of the more famous stops on the tour but it’s attracting extra attention this year because one of the competitors is Brittany Lincicome, a highly successful player from the LPGA. She was invited to the event on a sponsor’s exemption and from the sound of it, she’s looking forward to really enjoying the opportunity. (Associated Press)

Brittany Lincicome, hoping to be a trailblazer, will become only the sixth woman to compete in a men’s PGA Tour event when she tees off Thursday at the Barbasol Championship.

The 32-year-old American, a two-time major champion and eight-time LPGA winner, will be among 132 starters at Keene Trace Golf Club while most of the top men’s players compete in the British Open at Carnoustie.

“I’m really, really excited,” Lincicome said in a Tuesday essay on The Players Tribune website. “I’ll just be out here swinging for the fences and having the time of my life.”

Lincicome has a steep hill to climb ahead of her if she hopes to become a true “trailblazer” for women in the sport. She’s not the first woman to attempt the feat. Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie have all entered PGA tournaments in the modern era, but none have managed to so much as make the cut and play to the end of the tournament. But Lincicome may have one advantage the others didn’t. This is also the weekend of the British Open and most of the top male golfers are across the pond playing there. This will ease the competition for a final slot considerably.

So is this a good thing or not? Personally, I’m all in favor of allowing LPGA players to enter PGA events and there’s nothing in the rules against it. I am most emphatically not, however, a supporter of the idea of men being allowed to play in the LPGA, and that includes men who “identify as women.” Yes, there’s a double standard in play there but I can live with it.

Prizes in the LPGA still average far below the purses earned in the men’s tournaments. This is a reflection of the fact that the LPGA tournaments just don’t draw the same ratings and sponsorship money that the PGA brings in, so it’s more of an economic reality than a case of misogyny, but it still rankles the top female golfers for good reason. For those reasons and more, I see no problem in allowing women to compete with the guys in the PGA if they can qualify for the tournament. (Or, as in this case, qualify for a sponsor’s exemption.)

Unfortunately, while there is no physical contact in golf, it’s still a very physical sport and the best men in the game retain a decided advantage. Why? Because, as I’ve written about here at length, men and women are just different. It doesn’t mean one gender is “superior” to the other, but the physical build of the top male athletes gives them a pronounced edge in hitting longer drives. And hitting the long ball is a major part of success at the top levels in the PGA.

Best of luck, Ms. Lincicome. I rarely if ever watch any golf on television these days, but I just might tune in for part of this one.