Commentator and former pro Alison Whitaker was speaking on the Filthy Lipout golf podcast
‘Women Are Playing Courses As They Were Designed, Whereas The Guys Are Overpowering Them’
Former LET player turned commentator Alison Whitaker has said course set-ups in the women’s game remain truer to the architects’ intentions compared to how courses are prepared for men’s tournaments.
The distance debate continues to rage on in the men’s game, but it’s not such an issue in women’s tournaments, with elite players reaching par-5s in two shots much less often and generally having longer clubs for their approach shots into par-4s.
This subject was brought into the spotlight in a Golfweek article written on March 16th by the excellent Beth Ann Nichols.
She argued, with ample support from many female pros and prominent analyst Brandel Chamblee, that LPGA course set-ups are too long and there should be more risk\reward holes like reachable par-5s and driveable par-4s to boost excitement and enable the players to better showcase their talents.
Alison Whitaker expanded on the subject, while speaking on the Filthy Lipout golf podcast: “This story came about because her (Nichols’) boss said ‘you can write whatever you want, what’s the one story you’ve always wanted to write,’ and she wrote this.
“I think part of it has been prompted by Gaby Lopez’s (multiple winner on the LPGA Tour) partner, Santiago, has been doing this stats comparison recently between the men’s and the women’s game, in terms of proximity with similar clubs.
“He’s been looking at Jin Young Ko versus Dustin Johnson and showing that there’s very little disparity between them from accurate comparisons.
“I think that lit the fire for Beth Ann, along with a decade-plus of covering the Tour.
“But they did actually move a couple of tees up last week (at the Kia Classic).
“So obviously the LPGA has read the article and the whole Tour has shifted a little bit. I heard a couple of comments from players last week saying they were happy with the changes.
“But it’s a different game. The women are still playing the courses as they were designed to be played, which I actually really like, whereas the guys are overpowering them.
“I’m kind of caught in between because I’d love to have a real appreciation for how good those players are in the women’s game, but I don’t know that I’m ready to sacrifice course design for it.”
Whitaker also discussed a number of other topics on Filthy Lipout, including the ANA Inspiration, Augusta National Women’s Amateur, growing up in Australia, the best dancers in the American Solheim Cup team, singing Karaoke with Anne Van Dam and dealing with leopards and black mambas while commentating in South Africa.
Listen to the full Filthy Lipout episode: