Women of the Golf Channel (2018 Edition)

I find it interesting that my post Women of the Golf Channel is always a top visited page (even though it was written back in 2012). A lot has changed with the on-air talent so I thought I’d write an update.

From my post on March 8 2012:

Only two of the six women I highlighted in my previous post are still with Golf Channel. They are Kelly Tilghman and Lauren Thompson.

(1) Kelly Tilghman has a bio on the Golf Channel site but to be honest I watch a lot of Golf Channel and golf tournament coverage and I don’t see her that much except for “Life From” during major championships.

(2) Lauren Thompson is a co-host on Morning Drive. Back in 2012 she seemed to be a fill-in on-air talent for Holly Sonders (who left Morning Drive and went to FOX in 2014). Now Thompson is a key member of the morning team. You can read her full bio on the Golf Channel Website.

More Great Women on Golf Channel:

If you go to the bio page for TV personalities for Golf Channel you will see 11 women listed which is wonderful. I would break the list into two groups: On-air TV show personalities (e.g., Morning Drive, Golf Channel, etc.) and golf tournament coverage talent that do the on-air analysis for the tour coverage on Golf Channel.

As I did in my 2012 post, I am going to list just a few of the 11 women. At the end of the post is a list of links for the bios of all the women on Golf Channel’s website.

chantel-mccabe-golfchannel(1) Chantel McCabe is my new favorite on-air personality and seems to be the “go to person” for golf channel. By that I mean, McCabe is on Golf Central, Morning Driving, does interviews at PGA and LPGA tournaments, and does digital work for their website. It makes sense to me that the leadership at the golf channel would tap her for so many jobs because she is great on air. I like her style, her voice, she asks good questions, and she has a good sense of humor.

She is a seasoned reporter with experience working for FOX sports prior to joining the Golf Channel and was a reporter for a local television station in Springfield MA. She also scores points with me because she is a New England Patriots fan.

paigemackenzie_320x400(2) Paige Mackenzie is a co-host on Morning Drive. She joined Morning Drive while she was still on the LPGA Tour. The reasons I really like her is because she is very down to earth and relatable! For example, she chooses on-air outfits that any woman might wear. What I mean by that is sometimes (not always) other women, like Bailey Mosier, are so into fashion that their outfits seem over-the-top for a golf morning show.

I also enjoy Mackenzie’s tips when she does the “Watch and Learn” segments on Morning Drive. In these segments she reviews a player’s swing or a specific shot of a player from yesterday’s golf tournaments and explains what we can learn from it.

karenstupples_320x400(3) Karen Stupples is an on-course reporter and analyst for LPGA tour coverage. Stupples played on the LPGA and LET (Ladies European Tour) for 15 years and is the 2004 Women’s British Open Champion. She had an albatross (a 2 on a par 5) which you can watch in this Golf Channel video flashback.

I always find her insights interesting and her personality comes through even though you only hear her voice during coverage. She is funny and I often enjoy the banter with the other on-air analysts.

Golf Channel Bios

This would be a long blog post if I reviewed every women so below is a convenient chart with each woman’s name linked to their official bio on the Golf Channel website.

On-air Personalities Golf Tournament Coverage
Cara Banks Kay Cockerill
Lisa Cornwell Judy Rankin
Paige Mackenzie Karen Stupples
Chantel Mccabe Social Media Host for Tournaments
Bailey Mosier Alexandra O’Laughlin
Kelly Tilghman
Lauren Thompson

 

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LPGA Q-School Stage III Results

The grind of Q-school is over for the ladies and congratulations to the women that got their LPGA cards for 2013!  For anyone following my blog you know that I have been following the LPGA Q-school since stage I.  After stage II I reported that I would be watching four players in Stage III:

  1. Moriya Jutanugam (Thailand) – One of the top amateur players in women’s golf.
  2. Brooke Pancake – Winner of the 2012 Collegiate Women Sports Award for Golf.
  3. Anya Alvarez – A player from the 2012 Big Break Atlantis.
  4. Christina Kim  –  LPGA Professional that has been on tour for 10 years, is very popular, well-known on Twitter, and struggling with her game.

Note: On September 4, 2012, I wrote an overview of the LPGA Q-School.

LPGA Stage III Q-School Results

Stage III of the LPGA Q-school was held Nov 28 to Dec 2, at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida.  They played two courses, the Champion & Legends.  The full results give the scores for all five rounds and the final positions. The top 20 get full-status on the LPGA tour for 2013 and players finishing 21-45 get conditional status (so they may get to play a few tournaments but not many).  If you want to see a good list of the 20 players to secure their cards read the Golf Week Article.  Here are how the four I followed finished:

  1. Moriya Jutanugam – Tied 1st place, total score 347 (13 under par). As a winner she will forever have the title of medalist honors for Q-School!  This is a good omen given that past medalists include Stacy Lewis (2012 Player of the Year). I am not surprised she won since she has been one of the top amateur players this year.  But, she did not end with a solo win.  Jutanugam shares the medalist honors with Rebecca Lee-Bentham (who was a rookie on the LPGA in 2012 but needed to go to Q-school to retain her LPGA status).
  2. Brooke Pancake – Tied 11th, total Score 356 (four under par). I’ve been following Pancake since her last year in college (because I liked her name and now I am a fan of her game).  It will be fun to watch her during her rookie year in 2013.
  3. Anya Alvarez – Tied 54th, total score 363 (four over par). Unfortunately for Alvarez she did not get her tour card.  Shooting 75, and 75 the first two days was not a great start and even with a 69 on day three she did not recover and shot 74, and 70 to finish out her week.
  4. Christina Kim – Tied 39, total score 361 (one over par). Kim only had one good day during the week.  Round 2 she shoot a 67 (but the rest of her scores were 72,73,74,75 – not in that order).  But Kim fares better than Alvarez because of her career she will play with sponsor exemptions too.  I wasn’t sure how sponsor exemptions work so I tweeted a question to Stina Sternberg, Senior Editor, Golf Digest, covering women’s golf.  As Sternberg explains, Kim won a conditional card (for finishing in T39) but that does not help a lot.  But she gets in to at least 6 tournaments on sponsor exemptions; and can play in USWO (United States Women’s Open) qualifiers to get into the US Women’s Open.
Image of Twitter Conversation with Stina Sternberg

Twitter Conversation with Stina Sternberg

Results for Big Break Alum

Anya Alverez was not the only Big Break Alum in Stage III.  There were two other players at Q-school from past Big Break shows.

  1. Kim Welch – Tied 11th, total score 356 (4 under par).  Welch was the winner on Big Break Ka’anapali in 2008 so it just shows how hard it is to make it on to the LPGA tour.
  2. Kelly Jacques – Tied 17th, total score 357 (3 under par).  However, Jacques (from Big Break Ireland 2011) had a more heartbreaking end to her Q-school.  Jacques ended in seven-player tie for the final four spots in the top-20 so she had to go into a playoff.  Unfortunately she did not win one of the 4 spots and only got conditional status but it is still a great accomplishment.

Final Thoughts

The LPGA Q-school is great golf drama and I wish it had been televised on the Golf Channel.  I know it is expensive to televise golf but I think the final round would have been exciting for golfers to watch on TV.  At a minimum, I would have liked the Golf Channel to have more video from each day.  After all, the Golf Channel did show clips from the PGA Q-school on Golf Central each day.  Perhaps next year the Golf Channel will give air time to LPGA Q-school.  Given that the PGA is changing their process for next year and getting rid of Q-School for the PGA tour — maybe, just maybe the LPGA will get the spotlight next year.

LPGA Q-School Stage II Results

In my post on the results of Stage 1 of Q-School, I reported that I would be watching four players in Stage II:

  1. Moriya Jutanugam (Thailand) – the winner of LPGA Q-School Stage 1
  2. Brooke Pancake – winner of the 2012 Collegiate Women Sports Award for Golf
  3. Jaye Marie Green – runner-up to Lydia Ko at 2012 US Women’s Amateur
  4. Shannon Fish – the only one of six Golf Channel Big Break Atlantis contestants in Stage 1 of Q-School to move to Stage II of Q-school.

Note: On September 4, 2012, I wrote an overview of the LPGA Q-School.

LPGA Stage II Q-School Results

Stage II of the LPGA Q-school was held Oct. 9-12, at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla.   The full results give the scores for all four rounds and the final positions. The top 70 plus ties move to Stage III.  The winner Katie Burnett shot 273 (15 under par).  Here are how the four golfers listed-above performed:

  1. Moriya Jutanugam – Tied 16th, Score: 288 (even par) – Moving to Stage III
  2. Brooke Pancake – Tied 20th, Score: 289 (one over par) – Moving to Stage III
  3. Jaye Marie Green – Tied 77, Score: 296 (eight over par) – Not Moving forward*
  4. Shannon Fish – T113th, Score: 308 (thirteen over par) – Not moving forward*

* These players do gain status on the Symetra Tour for 2013. The Symetra tour is the future’s tour for the LPGA.

Results for Big Break Atlantis Alum

As mentioned in my Stage 1 Q-School post, three players from Big Break Atlantis did not need to play Stage 1 of Q-school (they automatically qualified for Stage II).  The three players were Anya Alvarez, Marcela Leon, and Gloriana Soto.

Only Anya Alvarez is moving to Stage III of Q-school.  Alvarez shot seven over par and finished tied in the 63rd position.  The winner of Big Break Atlantis Marcela Leon, shot 296 (eight over par) and missed the cut by one stroke.  It should be noted that the Stage II preliminary field listed Gloriana Soto but it does not appear she participated in Stage II.

Stage III LPGA Q-School

The final stage of Q-School will be held November 28-December 2, 2012 at the LPGA International Golf Course in Daytona Beach Florida.  This will include the golfers from Stage II as well as current LPGA players that are hoping to improve their status (which determines the tournaments they are eligible to play in 2013).

Which LPGA players will go “back to Q-School?”  One LPGA player that has had a tough year and will be heading to Q-School is Christina Kim.  Kim has been on tour for 10 years, is very popular, and well-known on Twitter.  From a marketing perspective, the LPGA wants this “star” to have full tour status in 2013.   Who else will join Kim? I think we can all guess but I’ll be good and wait until the official list of participants is released to comment.

LPGA Q-School Stage I Results

On September 4, 2012, I wrote an overview of the LPGA Q-School.  As part of that article I listed three players that I hoped would make it.  I’m happy to report that two of the three players I highlighted are moving on to Stage II of Q-school.  The two players moving on are Brooke Pancake and Jaye Marie Green.

LPGA Q-School Results

The screen shot below shows that Pancake and Green tied for 3rd position with a total score of 278 at 10 under par.  The winner Moriya Jutanugam (Thailand) is no surprise.  She is a well-known player on the amateur scene and her world amateur ranking is 12.  Believe it or not, she has a younger sister, Ariya Jutanugarn who’s world amateur ranking is 2.  Ariya is too young to go to Q-school, however she petitioned the LPGA to go to Q-School. The LPGA denied the sixteen year old an exemption.  Don’t feel too bad for Ariya — she will meet the age qualification for Q-school next year.

One of the big surprises was that Cheyenne Woods missed the cut and did not play in the final two rounds.  Her scores: 77+74=151 (+7).  The cut was +4 so she missed by 3 shots.  On one hand, it must be hard to be Tiger’s niece and be in the spot light as you start your career.  On the other hand, Cheyenne will get sponsor exemptions (because she is a “Woods”) and get experience that most players (that missed the cut) will not get in 2013.

Big Break Atlantis Alum Results

The six players from Big Break Atlantis were: Shannon Fish, Natalia Ghilzon, Meghan Hardin, Allison Micheletti, Christina Stockton, and Kelly Villarreal.  Only one player, Shannon Fish, made it to stage II of Q-school.  Shannon’s scores: 75, 71,73, and 79 for a total of 289 and tie for 30th position.  For the record here are the scores for the other Big Break Alum (position and score after two rounds):

Name Position Score
Natalie Ghilzon Tied 133 153
Christine Stockton Tied 158 158
Kelly Villarreal Tied 206 163
Meghan Hardin Tied 206 163
Allison Mitcheletti WD none

Stage II Coming in October

The next stage of the LPGA Q-school will be held Oct. 9-12, at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla.  I’ll be tracking Jaye Marie Green, Brooke Pancake, Shannon Fish; as well as, the additional Big Break Atlantis Stage II qualifiers —  Marcela Leon, Gloriana Soto and Anya Alvarez.

Lydia Ko makes history, again. Is Ko an “amateur” in name only?

It was amazing to watch Lydia Ko win the CN Canadian Women’s Open.  However, what was really surprising was that Ko was the lead story on Golf Channel’s wrap-up show, Golf Central.  It is rare that a ladies event overshadows a PGA event, but Lydia Ko’s win overshadowed Nick Watney’s win at the Barclays.

I wrote about Lydia winning the US Women’s Amateur just a few weeks ago.  Ko is an amazing golfer; but what is really surprising is her demeanor on the golf course and during her press conferences.  She has a lovely personality.  She smiles all the time (and said in the press conference she tries to smile even when she makes a bad shot).  She is quick to acknowledge all the people supporting her golf career and seems to recognize that her amateur schedule is like a job.  She stated in various interviews that she has missed many months of school with all the world traveling she is doing for golf.

As I watched Ko play, I noticed she had a Srixon logo on her golf cap and a New Zealand Golf Logo on her shirt.  I did a bit of research and found the New Zealand Golf website.  As an amateur Ko cannot have sponsors but what she does have is the support of the New Zealand Golf Federation.  Lydia Ko is one of the shinning stars of the New Zealand Golf Federation’s National Development Program (or better known to the golf viewing public as the “Srixon Golf Academy.”)

When you read the details of the “National Development Programme” on the New Zealand Golf Website, you realize how much of an advantage players supported by a national federation have over an amateur without such support.  The website states “The National Development Programme is the pathway that assists young emerging talent from throughout New Zealand to succeed on the international stage.”  Here is what the website states a Srixon Golf Academy player can expect:

  • Primary coach
  • Sports psychologist
  • Strength and conditioning coach
  • Golf specific physiotherapist
  • They will also have funding assistance to ensure their attendance at national events throughout their term in the Academy.
  • For the very best of the Academy there will be a contestable ‘International Tournament Campaign Fund’ to help assist them create and manage their own international tournament campaigns.  (Note: the website even lists specific tournaments in Asia, UK/Europe, Canada, and the USA).

Wow, given the “funding” support it is hard to call Lydia Ko an Amateur.  Clearly, the financial support to travel all over the world to compete against the worlds best golfers is a luxury most American amateurs would love.  Actually, I think a lot of “journeymen” players and “rookies” on the professional tours would love that kind of financial support.

The support Lydia Ko receives does not take away from her talent or her win.  She is still a 15-year-old playing an individual sport and it is her talent and mental fortitude that has allowed her to win at the highest level of golf.  However, the support Ko receives “outside the ropes” is not something all amateurs get.  Judy Rankin, Golf Hall of Fame member and commentator for LPGA golf events, often comments during her on-air TV analysis that international amateurs (supported by golf federations) have an advantage over American amateurs.  The lack of international travel and opportunity to play against the best in the world is a big issue for the development of American Amateurs.

Is Lydia Ko like other Amateurs at all?  One way Lydia Ko is a normal amateur is that she does not have the pressure a professional has to win.  Professionals feel pressure because golf is how they make their living.  Maybe a good example is Lexi Thompson.  In 2007, at age 12, Thompson was the youngest golfer to qualify for the US Women’s Open and turned pro at 15 but did not have her LPGA card. Thompson was entering LPGA tournaments on sponsor exemptions. Thompson made history when she won her first LPGA event (the Navistar LPGA Classic) at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old.  Given her win, the LPGA waived the age minimum/restriction and granted Lexi Thompson her card.  But as a professional, Thompson has struggled this year and missed the cut at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.  The other past “amateur phenom” to miss the cut this week — Michelle Wie.

Is Lydia Ko an amateur in name only?  I say yes because she plays like a professional, she travels and competes worldwide like a professional, and she has “financial support” that mirrors the economic benefit to cover travel costs that a sponsor deal might cover (without the official sponsor).

Who knows when Lydia Ko will become a professional.  Until that time, I’m sure Lydia Ko will continue to amaze the golf viewing public with her amazing talent.  The next big question is when she does turn professional, will she continue her phenomenal rise?  Will Ko be the next Annika or Tiger?.  Only time will tell.  One thing is for sure —  the golf world will be watching.

Team Competition and Amateurs should be part of Golf in the 2016 Olympics

This week with the Summer Olympics in full-swing there are some great articles being written about golf returning to the Olympics (Rio 2016).  The article written by Brent Kelley titled “What Will the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Golf Tournaments Look Like” provides an easy to understand explanation and a list of what the teams would look like if golf were in the Olympics today.

The essence of the article states that the Olympic format will probably be similar to the 72-hole tournament that is currently used on the professional tours.  This makes sense for individual medals.  The article also explains that the top 15 golfers (men and women, by professional world rankings) would automatically qualify; and that each country would be allowed two players (which accommodates countries with no professionals in the top 15). Therefore, at a minimum, each country would have two players competing (in the men’s and women’s events).  Some countries could have more than two players (for example, there are currently eight American men golfers in the world top 15.)

It all seems fair when you first read the details but two things popped into my mind.  First, why is there no team competition?  Given the popularity of the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup it surprised me that team match play was not part of the format for the Olympics.  The Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup is USA against Europe, but I would think a match play format with all the countries playing for medals could work.  There is a strong probability that the USA, South Korea, or any of the other countries with the top professionals would win, but who cares because fans still get to cheer for their country’s team.  Team match play might even give a less known country a “Cinderella” experience.  Team competition is not unprecedented in the Olympics (e.g. gymnastics has both team and individual formats.)

The second thing that came to my mind was there is no opportunity for top amateur golfers.  It’s true that “amateur status” has not been an Olympic requirement for many years.  If you are old enough to have watched the Olympics before 1986, then you remember the communist countries that dominated the games because their athletes were not “amateurs” in the true spirit of the Olympics.  In 1986, the International Olympic Committee changed the Olympic Charter to allow “all the world’s great male and female athletes to participate” so professional status was no longer an issue.  But using the world golf rankings in 2016 eliminates the ability for the top amateur golfers to qualify.  It reminds me of when the “Dream Team” was announced for basketball for the 1992 Olympics.  Only one player on the team was a college star; the rest were all from the NBA.  I remember feeling sorry for the amateur players (mostly top college players) that had their Olympic dreams vanish when professionals were selected for the dream team.

I have no idea what the final format will be for golf in the 2016 Rio Olympics.  However, if I were on the committee to decide the format, I would suggest adding a team competition.  Also, let each country add the top male and female amateur to their rosters and add a “lowest amateur” medals category.  This would be inline with the current golf “low amateur” awarded at professional tournaments today.

The Olympics provide the biggest stage in the world for sports. I think it would be a missed opportunity to limit the competition to 72-hole stroke play.  I vote for showcasing all aspects of golf — amateurs, professionals, stroke play, and match play.

The LPGA’s Funny Girl – Tiffany Joh

Another US Women’s Open has come to a close and most bloggers will be writing about the winner, Na Yeon Choi but I’m going to highlight a player that did not even make the cut — American golfer, Tiffany Joh.  Why?  Because, whether it is intentional or not — she is in the process of building a unique personal brand.

This year Joh is struggling a bit with her game and is 115 in the Rolex World Rankings.  However, Joh is a solid player and shows promise.  Joh won twice on the LPGA’s Future tour.  As a member of the LPGA 2011 Rookie Class, Joh had an excellent year with $237,365 in earnings and ranked eighty-seven (87) on the Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings list.  Joh also had a top 10 finish in 2012.  She was second at the Navistar Classic.  Unfortunately for Joh, it was the tournament Lexi Thompson (Golf’s newly anointed “phenom”) made history as the youngest winner (at age 16) on the LPGA.

So what makes Joh unique?  The PGA may have the Golf Boys but the LPGA has Tiffany Joh.  She loves music and has become known for her music videos.  This week, the week of the 2012 US Women’s Open, she posted her most recent video on her YouTube channel (Just Your Morning Cup of Joh.)   The video is All I Do is Win (LPGA Remix).  A parody of the song, “All I Do is Win” by Ludacris.

Joh has had a YouTube channel since 2008 but she really got noticed for her LPGA video last year “Grip It” (a parody of Freak Nasty’s 1996 hit song “Da’ Dip”).  It’s amazing how she get’s her fellow LPGA players to be silly on video.

Not only is she clever and creative with music videos but she has a great channel title “Just your morning cup of Joh” and user name “CupofJoh” and has a cartoon-like drawing (self-portrait – I’m guessing) and uses it as her YouTube channel and Twitter background.  All creating a unique personal brand.

The one thing that surprised me is that her website does not carry this branding.  However, if you visit the website, Joh’s humor and attitude come through loud and clear with just a single page stating “You are a Nerd…Websites are for Nerds.”  Is she ahead of the curve or just representative of her generation who live on social media?  I believe it is the later.  After all, the websites of the big golf stars are supported by big sponsor money.  So Joh’s site may get an upgrade if she lands a major sponsor.

It’s not just that Joh is using social media but she is savvy too — do you think the timing of the recent video was a fluke? No way.  The US Women’s open gets more press than any other women’s golf event and Joh’s video was all over twitter (at least the people who tweet about golf).

As I mentioned earlier, Joh did not make the cut at the US Women’s Open but her sense of humor never fails.  Here is a screen shot of her tweet from the airport the next day:

Tweet from Tiffany Joh on Missing Cut at US Women's Open

If you are old school and think golfers should only get noticed for their golf achievements than Tiffany Joh’s style may not be your “cup of tea” (or joh); but I respect the fact that she has developed a personal brand that sets herself apart from all the other young female golfers on tour.