Thanks to LPGA Fan for spotting the Brand Lady's interview in what seems like ages. From Charleston's Post and Courier (she saves her time for the big platforms!), interviewed by Tommy Braswell:
When you first took over as LPGA commissioner, there seemed to be a lot of controversy. But things have settled down. Are you happy with the LPGA's direction now?
"I'll speak for myself and my staff.
That's right, only you be so presumptuous!
We're very happy with the direction things are going. We made some changes and went through all the bumps in the road last year. We're in a much stronger position this year. We've added three new tournaments. And redoing a little bit of our schedule has made a difference for the players and, I think, the attendance at some of the events. We're very strongly focused on next year, and several of us are working on years 2009 and out. I think not only what you see this year, but what you'll see in 2008, 2009 and 2010, you'll really see the direction the LPGA is headed."
When you first came to the LPGA did you expect it to be a smooth transition?
"I knew that making change wasn't going to be easy. What I did underestimate was how public it was going to be."
And whose fault is that again?
Your thoughts on drug testing?
"We are being proactive for a couple of reasons. Number one is that our sport in Europe already has been testing for several years. We were almost tested at Evian last year. So we need to get into the world in which we compete. Number two, I do believe with a group of women it's a little different in terms of drug testing. From the time women are 17, 18 years old, there are certain hormones one takes until the time they're 50 to 55 years old. So we have a much bigger job of education before implementing drug testing. We wanted the opportunity to do this in the right way and to educate women and be ready as opposed to having to react to something."
Why can't she be that coherent on other issues?
What's your take on the LPGA's TV ratings?
"They're up overall. They're up again, 2005 over 2004, 2006 over 2005, and so far (in 2007) they're up again."
What kind of goals do you have regarding TV ratings?
"We did start from a smaller base, but so did the Champions Tour and so do a lot of other sports. Nonetheless, we're the only ones bucking the trend. Our trend line is in the right direction. The specific numbers for the Ginn Open (an April event in Florida) was 1.3, which is one great rating.
Let's not jump for joy just yet!
And the last three hours going to The Golf Channel, it was 410,000, which again is a very big number. There's no way you can attribute it to anything else but the women and the caliber of play."Jeese, you'd think she just outdrew the final night of American Idol!
Have the young faces helped?
"No question, newness does have an interest. But make no mistake, Juli Inkster and some of the others have very big followings.
I mean, who isn't checking her scores hourly?
I think it's the combination of having the Morgan Pressels and the Juli Inksters still out there and still being competitive. Juli is not out there as a hobby. She's still winning tournaments and finishing in the top 10. It's the combination that makes the product so exciting. There's nothing else like it in sports."
Ah the product. And here we are 400 words into this and not one brand reference!
South Carolina has a mixed history with LPGA tournaments. What's the secret of keeping tournaments?
"The LPGA has done a pretty good job of keeping tournaments. One of the things is matching up the corporate sponsor, a good golf course and a community where you can get volunteers and available TV times. It's a Rubik's Cube, it all has to fit together.
I thought we were going to try to cut down on the metaphors, Carolyn?