Selena Roberts, in a New York Times sports column:
But a colorful personality to most seems nothing more than a product line to Bivens, who has revealed an unnatural love for the word "brand."Don't give Bivens ideas like that!
"Our overarching theme for the next three years is going to be building the L.P.G.A. brand," said a rambling Bivens, who has no discernible love of golf. "We're going to build that brand by continuing to build on the fans first and the five points of celebrity. We want to make sure that our rookies, from this point on, have that same base, because building our brand going forward requires that we go forward on that foundation. Some of the first initiatives is we are doing a lot of work and having an individual branding coach available for the women."
An individual branding coach? What does that mean? Meg Mallon Bars and Karrie's World Wide Webb?
Instead of setting the tone for substance — letting these women shine without slick packaging, letting rivalries fresh on the scene help rally the Tour — she is establishing a foundation of superficiality.
As everyone is aware, the unspoken ad slogan for the L.P.G.A. goes something like, "This is not your lesbian mom's tour anymore," but Bivens has gone head over hetero to remake its image. She sent six players to be seen at the Academy Awards parties (no sock tans, please).
"It was a lot of fun seeing celebrities mix and mingle with other celebrities," Bivens said. "And we're getting an awful lot of mileage out of that."
She is all about mileage. Bivens is cross-promoting with Nascar, which means we'll soon hear victorious golfers say, "I just want to thank my Nike CPR Rescue club for making this possible."
Bivens also admits stealing star strategies from everyone, whether it's commissioner David Stern of the National Basketball Association or the empress of all gilded good, Oprah.
"From an entertainment standpoint, I would say Oprah is the best we know," Bivens said. "She is a great personal brand."
Someone stop this woman. Bivens should realize what Oprah knows: a brand is nothing without a million little pieces of credibility. Integrity is in the product, and Bivens's product is golf.
There is nothing wrong with women on the L.P.G.A. Tour finding joy in marketing their sexy sides and pushing the envelope on fashion, but that's what overwrought agents are for, not starry-eyed commissioners.
There are a lot of wannabe models, actresses and pop stars in America's celebrity-obsessed culture. But how does a gal gain separation from the milieu? People don't just flock to Wie's every tee box because she was interviewed by Elle magazine; they come seeking the thrill of her swing.
And as she crushed a drive on the 11th hole Friday, well beyond Fred Funk range and closer to Tiger Woods's territory, the gallery gasped with delight.
Wie has beauty and youth, but more important, a unique opportunity to grow up before our eyes as a woman defined by her power. Or, as Bivens might brand, "Wie: the next Oprah."