Following cancelled events and massive financial losses, I have read different reports about the LET. Some have said the tour is on the verge of collapse, others have said it is to be taken over by the LPGA and another article said that the European Tour were also considering taking over the struggling Tour.
Mel Reid / Image from Golffile
If you look at the LET website, the tour has only played 7 events this year, one in Australia, one in China, one in Thailand, one in Morocco, one in Spain and two in Scotland. Playing for a total purse of €6 million, two of these events were co-sanctioned with the LPGA tour accounting for almost €4 million of the total prize fund and there were no events during May or June.
To put it into perspective, on the LPGA circuit during the same period they have played 24 events for a total purse of 46.5m dollars.
Ivan Khodabakhsh was the CEO of the struggling tour and he took over in 2013. According to a recent report in The Times newspaper the LET lost €1 million in 2014 and 2015 and is now losing tournaments like a golfer loses golf balls. The tour is spiraling out of control.
The LET has had 5 events cancelled this year including what was their flagship event, the European Masters. Khodabakhsh left his job in early August. It seems like his departure was overdue.
The recent Solheim Cup shows that Europe still has some world class players but they all play in the USA and who can blame them, that’s where the money is. So what is wrong?
The LET is the forgotten tour and even the most enthusiastic golf fans would struggle to name some of the players on the European Solheim Cup team. The tour must do a better job at promoting their top players. Really the only female golfer that a lot of golfers could name would be Laura Davies and she is 54 years of age at this point. Ask most golfers to name the lady majors and not many people would know.
I think there is a great opportunity for the ordinary golfer to learn about and watch the ladies professional game. When you think about it, most golfers play a game that is more familiar with the ladies professional game than the men’s and golfers could learn a lot from watching how the ladies get the ball around the golf course.
An idea I have always thought would help the LET would be if they could manage to play an event during the same week as the men, on the same course. Similar to tennis where both the men and women play during the same weeks. I think it would be very interesting to see the ladies playing after the men. This idea would be no doubt met with disagreement but in my opinion it would help to grow the game of golf. It would create interest in the game of golf unlike the failed effort of some lady pros to play on the European or PGA tours.
We have to respect that no matter how good a female golfer is she won’t be able to compete with the best male golfers in power and distance, it’s just physically impossible. When you look at the great job the European Tour are doing under their new CEO Keith Pelley, he is not afraid to change the status quo and I believe that the LET need the same forward thinking-style CEO.
The players will of course have to play their part. Their exodus to the States didn’t help the LET but I don’t blame them for their decision. As a professional you have to make money and the US is where the money is, but these world class players will have to commit to a certain number of events each year in Europe to try and recreate a strong tour.
All we can do now is wait and see what happens next but it won’t do anyone any good if we lose the LET as we know it.
This article was taken from the November edition of Irish Golf Magazine and to read the full magazine click here.