The cri­sis on the Ladies Euro­pean Tour

Can­celled events, dis­ap­pear­ing money, player dis­con­tent... ex­plain­ing where the LET goes from here.

Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

The is­sue

Last June, hav­ing can­celled seven tour­na­ments in the 2017 sea­son and seen its as­sets re­port­edly fall from £1.05m in 2013 to just £72,000 at the end of De­cem­ber 2015, the Ladies Euro­pean Tour de­nied it was in cri­sis and on the brink of col­lapse. “We fully un­der­stand the frus­tra­tions our mem­bers have with the tour­na­ment can­cel­la­tions and are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion,” read a state­ment that de­scribed the Times’ fig­ures as “highly in­ac­cu­rate”. Pri­vately, the LET emailed its mem­bers to ac­knowl­edge that they “all feel sad, dis­ap­pointed, up­set, fu­ri­ous, an­gry”, but pleads with them not to vent their frus­tra­tions on so­cial me­dia.

What hap­pened next?

The sea­son ended with only 15 events, just six be­yond the ma­jors. Charley Hull com­plained that with­out events, Europe’s stars would be forced to chase tour­na­ments and riches across the At­lantic. Af­ter LET chief ex­ec­u­tive Ivan Khod­abaksh was re­placed by chair­man Mark Licht­en­hein, of­fers of help came in from the LPGA, the men’s Euro­pean Tour and the R&A. “Over the next weeks and months we are go­ing to be look­ing at all those of­fers and how we can move for­ward and re­build our tour­na­ment sched­ule, par­tic­u­larly in Europe, so that we can make a bright fu­ture,” said Licht­en­hein last Au­gust.

The sit­u­a­tion today

While the LET de­clined to com­ment, Keith Pelley shone light on the sit­u­a­tion. “We tried to get in­volved,” he said in late Novem­ber. “We pre­sented to the LET board along with Mike Whan from the LPGA a cou­ple of months ago… a three-way part­ner­ship with our­selves, the LPGA and the R&A. They have de­cided at this time to try to re­build on their own. We’ve said we’re here when­ever you need us.” As we went to press, the LET hadn’t con­firmed its full 2018 sched­ule, with Mark Licht­en­hein only say­ing: “We have a fairly mea­gre sched­ule in the first half of the year. That’s what we need to ad­dress for the fu­ture.”

The way for­ward?

The LPGA of­fers great en­cour­age­ment here. In 2009, it at­tracted only 23 events, its low­est num­ber since 1972. A player re­volt led to a change in com­mis­sioner and un­der Mike Whan, the LPGA has gone from strength to strength, with more events, prize money, spon­sor­ship and TV deals. If the LET can turn its own for­tunes around with a new man at the helm then all well and good, but the next 12 months are cru­cial. If its strug­gles con­tinue this year, a merg­ing of the Euro­pean men’s and women’s tours would make sense. The two bod­ies shar­ing re­sources, mar­ket­ing, ex­per­tise and fi­nances can only be good for the LET and game as a whole.

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