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Milwaukee would be a great stop for the LPGA Tour. (PHOTO: Jim Owczarski)

Say no way to the PGA Tour: Bring on the girls


A couple of weeks ago a colleague of mine, Steve Jagler, who is the editor of the Biz Times and a regular contributor at OnMilwaukee.com, wrote a column suggesting that Milwaukee try to get a PGA tour event back in the city.

And to prove his point he pointed to the annual John Deere Classic that takes place in the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa. He makes a couple of arguments, not a single one that makes any sense for Milwaukee. He ignores a lot of differences between the Quad Cities and Milwaukee.

There is nothing else in the Quad Cities except for the golf tournament. Milwaukee has professional baseball, basketball, college sports and the Green Bay Packers.

He says the list of winners in the past decade is "impressive," a list that includes J.P. Hayes, Vijay Singh, Mark Hensby, Sean O'Hair, John Senden, Jonathan Byrd, Kenny Perry, Madison's Steve Stricker (three times) and Zach Johnson. Out of that list I'd say Singh and Stricker are the only two names with any real stature on the tour.

By comparison the winners of the last 10 years of the Milwaukee tour event were Carlos Franco, Loren Roberts, Shigeki Maruyama, Jeff Sluman, Carlos Franco (again) Ben Crake, Corey Pavin, Joe Oglivie, Richard Johnson, Bo Van Pelt and Perry. Makes your heart sing, right?

The Milwaukee tournament closed its clubhouse in 2009 after decades as a second-rate tour stop and a few years as a third-rate event. There were no stars stopping in Milwaukee. Attendance was almost non-existent. You could shank a 2-iron out there and not be in any danger of hitting someone in the crowd. There was no crowd.

I don't mean to be a total pessimist here. I think those of us who like professional golf have a chance, if we just turn our attention to the ladies. It's kind of like life: If you want something done, ask a woman.

I am convinced that Milwaukee could stage a LPGA Tour even that would be one of the best and biggest on the women's tour. There are a number of reasons we'd be better off with the ladies.

  1. If the purse were even modest compared to the one we had for men, it would be one of the biggest on the LPGA Tour, giving us much better odds of getting the stars.
  2. Brown Deer is a perfect course for the female pros. It's long enough to challenge them and is the kind of classic old course that all golfers appreciate.
  3. Plus, their game is much more like the one most of us men play, so we can see shots from distances that are familiar to us.
  4. The women are hot. Make no mistake about it; the LPGA markets sex appeal as one of its strengths. Think of Sandra Gal, Blair O'Neal, Natalie Gulbis and Anna Rawson in short skirts walking Brown Deer.

What we need to make this happen, beside civic leadership that can normally be a problem in Milwaukee, is a sponsor that has some attraction to the women's market.

When US Bank dropped out of the men's tournament, it folded faster than a 3-footer for a guy with the yips.

I think there are at least three candidates to sponsor an LPGA event in Milwaukee.

One is Kohl's which is a national chain with headquarters in Milwaukee. A second is the S.C. Johnson Company in Racine that makes all those cleaning products and finally we have Pick 'n Save, the huge grocery chain in Milwaukee.

They all market to women and while it may take as much as $5 million for a men's tournament, the price for an LPGA event could easily be half that amount.

In addition, I think it's possible. I think the idea of getting a PGA event is a pipe dream with almost no chance of success. As I say, bring on the girls.

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