Annika Sorenstam has been the most dominant player on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour, and for this she has justly been invited to play in Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour events. I have no problems with this, but what I do have a problem with is the reaction it caused.
Just this week, a man named Brian Kontak announced his intentions to play in the Women’s U.S. Open. Kontak is serious in trying to qualify, believing his cause is one of equality. After all, if women can play on the men’s tour, shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Simply put, the answer is no. Sorenstam is about opportunity, not gender equality. Sorenstam has made it clear from the beginning that she wants no part in being a PGA Tour regular.
As a fellow golfer (albeit, one nowhere near her caliber), I see this as Sorenstam wanting to challenge herself. Knowing that she is the best of the LPGA, it is time to see how competitive she can be with the best golf has to offer on the PGA Tour.
The LPGA Tour serves a major role in giving women the opportunity to golf for a living. However, the ability to make a living off of golf is still much more difficult for women. Purses are much smaller for women’s events.
Add to this the fact that the LPGA Tour has 28 official events compared to the 47 offered by the PGA, it’s not unreasonable to see why only five women won more than $1 million in prize money last year.
In comparisons, 67 men accomplished this. It is also important to remember that there exists a second tier tour for men, the Nationwide Tour, on which Kontak plays, while no such thing exists for women.
Even second and third-rate male pro golfers can play regularly. For a man to try and take that away is against the basic principles of freedom. In this case, the freedom to play. For a man to attempt to play in a women’s event only shows a lingering existence of chauvinism in the sports world.
This isn’t a revolution of professional golf, rather, it is a top-notch female pro looking to see how good she really is.
Sorenstam isn’t looking to be Billie Jean King. She is trying to be more along the lines of Babe Zaharias, the legendary jack-of-all trades athlete who was the last woman to play a PGA event. She just wants to show her skills.