Would two tournaments be better than one?
This week just past was one of the most unique of the entire golf season. The reason: Two big-time pro golf tours played an event at the same time in the same city.
The setting was exotic Agadir, Morocco. The European Tour staged its Hassan II Trophy at Golf du Palais Royal, while the Ladies European Tour put on its Lalla Meryem Cup at nearby Golf de'l Ocean. It happened because both were sponsored by Morocco's Hassan II Golf Trophy Association.
Neither event got much coverage here in the United States, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is just brilliant. The only thing, in my view, that could make it better would be to play both events at the same facility – and I would love to see the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour try this once, just to see how it would work.
To succeed, you'd need a big, brawny complex with two championship courses and enough room to hold all the off-course accoutrements – hospitality areas, merchandise tents, and so on. There are several possibilities that immediately come to mind.
Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit has a history of hosting some of golf's biggest events, but as a private facility its members might not want to take on the challenge. Big resorts like Pinehurst or Doral also would be excellent possibilities.
My choice, however, would be Cog Hill. It has plenty of great courses, is one of America's top public facilities, and has hosted many big events. Plus, Chicago is underserved for big-time golf these days as the BMW Championship (formerly the Western Open) is now rotating among several host venues.
The big question, to me, is whether a two-fer week would be a benefit or a disadvantage for the LPGA Tour. My hope is that it would be a plus, allowing the ladies to soak up some of the spotlight that shines so brightly on their male counterparts. The potential downside, of course, is that so much attention is focused on the men that the women would kind of get lost – I mean, what would it look like if 80 percent of the gallery was following the men and only a handful of people were following the women?
What I'd really like to see is a pair of limited-field events played at the same time on the same course – say, 60 men and 60 women, playing in alternating groups (men from the back tees obviously, women from forward tees so that the course is more to their usual 6,500 to 6,900 yards or so. I suspect the male players wouldn't like it, but the potential to expose the LPGA Tour to a bigger audience would, to me, make it worth any hassle there might be.
My biggest concern, and I say this with all due respect, is whether the LPGA Tour players could handle PGA Tour-speed greens. I have no stats to back this up, only my observations over the years, but I feel like I almost never see LPGA Tour players drain putts like the top PGA Tour players so often do. So I'd have a little trepidation sending the women out there to tackle the greens at Cog Hill or Doral when they're ramped up to PGA Tour speed.
But what a great experiment it would be, and how much fun would it be to see just one time.