The forces are strong, contrasting and fascinating: no American has won a major in 2018 and barring a miracle, the fifth and final LPGA major teeing off this week will produce just the fourth year ever when at least one American prevailed in a major.
Matt Adams and I debated on this week’s Golf Central and with all due respect to the many fine players, the struggles of American women is the top storyline for me. My expression in the screen capture summarizes the fixed nature of the topic, but I digress.
Clearly, next spring’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur will add another bit of incentive for aspiring American women, and we are about to start seeing if the Drive, Chip and Putt produces elite talent, but there appears to be some disagreement about the role college golf has (or has not) played in developing talent.
With six scholarships available at fully-funded Division I programs, the reports of unused scholarships have raised eyebrows about what we are doing to develop junior girls. Jack Nicklaus brought this up in his Morning Drive appearance this week hosted by Gary Williams and in conjunction with Gary Player and Lee Trevino.
But as Beth Ann Nichols notes in this Golfweek story, the misconception is not a great one given how many programs are not fully or even partially funded.
Or as she writes, “Junior girls can’t pluck a full ride to college like an apple from a tree.”
From the story:
“I think it’s a very common assumption that full rides are readily available,” said Kelly, whose program does not have six full scholarships. “I hear this frequently … ‘You are at a wealthy institution. Your school has the money.’ ”
Brandi Jackson hears it too. For nearly 10 years the former LPGA pro has guided players and their families through the recruiting process.
“There’s a big chunk of your better academic schools who may only have one scholarship among the whole team,” Jackson said. “Eight girls on the team … the majority of those girls are paying to be there.”
Something to keep in mind…
A) when you wonder why Americans are falling behind in a sport they once dominated
B) when donating to the athletic department’s general fund
C) when wondering why your alma mater’s women are not attracting the best players
But hey, on that bright note, the scenarios for a new No. 1 and other highlights going into the fifth (gulp) and final LPGA major played for the last time in September.
Speaking of LPGA majors, one of the American rally killers earlier this century spoke of the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur and it’s potential influence today on Morning Drive: