4 February 2021
The Ladies European Tour seems to have stumbled into 2021 in much the same manner it has begun too many recent years. This despite its much-heralded new partnership with the LPGA.
I recently tweeted to #LETGolf pointing out an error on its Tournament Schedule page. I received a polite thank you (which was nice), along with advice that its 2021 Tournament Schedule would be published later in January. It wasn’t.
Instead of a tournament schedule, for now we at least have an announcement that a new 4-tournament series will be played in 2021 in: New York, London, Singapore & King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia. A $1million purse per tournament too, which compares more than favourably with the regular Tour event purses of $300-400,000. Exciting stuff!
One could debate the morality of the geo-source of this sponsorship but, personally, I don’t give a crap. It’s new money going into golf and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t care if corporations I view as scumbags, like facebook or Fox Corp, had been the sponsor. It’s new money going into golf instead of somewhere else; that’s a good thing.
However, as my headline suggests, this new Series has got it wrong by making all four tournaments teams events. In golf, aside from the long established team events (Solheim Cup, Ryder Cup), hardly anybody is interested in teams and even less interested in betting on them.
Golf bettors would far prefer to bet on individual golfers to win or place in a 54- or 72-hole tournament than try and work out which composite team is likely to perform best. To add insult to injury, the 4th member of each team will be an amateur and thus broadly unknown; also a turn-off for bettors.
Why does gambler engagement matter? Because when bettors have their money invested their level of interest in golf (and every other sport) immeasurably rises. These invested bettors represent: eyes-on viewership, social media output, added tournament publicity, new cable tv subscriptions, published and podcast betting analysis and tips, more visits to tournament sites and so on. And so on. Did the biggest tour, PGA Tour, recently embrace gambling at the earliest opportunity for purely altruistic reasons that have nothing to do with revenue? Duh, no!
If you’re one of those freaks who thinks gambling and sport don’t mix, take a look at the shirtfront jersey sponsorships across the major European soccer leagues. How many are sports betting corporations? Or quantify the massive tax rakes by governments around the world that are generated by sports betting.
How much is bet on sports globally each year? Nobody knows but assuredly it’s a long way north of $100billion! A number that makes all the golf tours in the world look like financial irrelevancies. They must embrace it.
So, to conclude by returning to my main point, why would the Ladies European Tour, one of the poorest funded strugglers on the global golf scene, be involved in orchestrating four new big money tournaments that are guaranteed to minimise golf bettor interest?
Unaware? Doesn’t care? Let’s face it, if you’re running any professional sport these days and you turn a blind eye to the sports betting industry and its hundreds of millions of clients, you’re out of touch with reality!