NAPLES, Fla. – There are new fans out at Tiburon Golf Club for this week’s Grant Thornton Invitational. In fact, tournament officials say ticket sales and concession sales at the same venue as the QBE Shootout have more than doubled since the format changed this year to a mixed-team event.
Hospitality for the 16-team event and Saturday’s concert on the Tiburon driving range sold out.
That was always the hope, of course, that putting the PGA Tour and LPGA together would draw more interest.
For many PGA Tour players, this marks the first time they’ve teed it up in competition with an elite LPGA player, and it’s been an eye-opening experience.
Those who follow the women’s game closely have long said that male amateur players can learn more from watching the LPGA than the PGA Tour because it’s a more relatable game.
Golfweek asked several PGA Tour players in the field what they think male amateur players can learn from the women and aside from “everything,” here’s what they said:
“When I grew up, one thing my dad said, obviously we watched a lot of the PGA Tour, but we watched a lot of the LPGA because you could relate a lot more based off of swing speeds and the way they play the game …
“Just the way they plot themselves around the golf course. The majority that I’ve played with, they don’t take on any unnecessary risk compared to maybe the guys. When I watch the LPGA, I don’t see them short-side themselves a lot. Now, that’s not always the case on the PGA Tour, like I said we’re a little more aggressive bunch at times. But also that’s because of our ball-flight. We can bring it in higher and softer, so we’re being aggressive into pins around the corners, where a lot of girls are landing it shorter and trying to feed it into spots.”
“And then I think they putt so well. Their short games are really good. Their speeds are really good on the greens.”
“If you take the whole spectrum of men who play golf, obviously the elite level ladies hit a much similar distance to them. But the magnificent control, the consistency of the ball-striking, the short game. It’s exactly the same thing that we’re doing out here. Do you know what I mean? … The level that we’re all playing at is equal.
“Obviously the great thing about golf is you’ve just got to find the correct tee. That’s what I would say, they set the golf courses up for the LPGA to be right in the wheelhouse of how the mean average plays in terms of distance. I think there’s a lot of men’s amateur golfers that don’t play the appropriate tee box and make the game very difficult or impossible for themselves.
“But the skill level (between the tours) is absolutely comparable.”
“I think the men try to hit too many golf shots. They try to hit fades and draws. These girls hit the same shot over and over and over again. Own what you do. Lilia (Vu) hits a draw, she hits a draw on every shot. If you play a fade, play a fade. … These girls just make it simple.
“Golf is really hard, so if you can do it over and over again. It looks easy and it looks boring, but that’s the hardest part, doing it over and over again.”
“They’re very smart. Megan (Khang), my partner, she doesn’t hit it the highest but she’s very crafty in how she shapes the ball and gets the ball around to certain pins. She’s very good at playing to the safe side and working it into the trouble and she knows how to do the opposite.
“I feel like a lot of amateurs lose a lot of strokes around the greens and most of these women are very polished around the greens, and that’s where you can save a lot of shots. … I’ve learned a lot from Megan over the last two days. I can probably take a couple pieces of Megan’s game.”
“I mean, not to pick on the average male – no, I would say watching the men play or the guys that are some of the longer hitters on PGA Tour, it’s not a spot that people can really expect themselves to be at. I mean, it’s kind of crazy speeds.
“I think the game that Lexi (Thompson) plays out there, her being one of the longer of the girls is something that is a little bit more attainable for the average male golfer. And that’s not to knock anyone. Lexi pounds it as everyone knows and you see it on the stats. It’s still impressive to watch — I mean, watching Lilia (Vu) stuff it there at the last.
“Yeah, it’s different speeds, but you see that in sports across the board. I think for the average or normal golfer that’s something that they can maybe try and emulate or play similar to.”
“I was just actually saying I know their tempo’s always pretty good, but I sit there and I’m kind of envious of how they play their wedge shots because I’m sitting there spinning these shots way back. Their spin control and the control in general just coming into the greens, that’s why they’re so consistent in how they hit it because it just goes one bounce, stop. That’s kind of something that I’m always kind of shooting towards.
“I was asking her earlier this week how she plays her wedges and that’s definitely something that I’m going to take away and try and work on in the offseason, which is coming up. Seeing if that can transfer over to my game as well, which will help my wedge game.”
“It’s astonishing. I don’t get to watch them up close very often myself. I knew they were really good, but I’ve really been blown away. The consistency, the way they handle themselves and manage their game is really, really impressive. I think they certainly play within themselves. They’re really committed to their plan or their shot and definitely amateur golfers can learn from that.”
“I don’t think many amateur golfers in the world can do what they do. It’s been awesome to watch and fun to be a part of.”
“Other than everything? Their poise is incredible. They hit it so straight and their hands around the greens – I feel like I’ve let Ronni (Yin) down the last couple days. (laughs)
“They’re always in tempo. Really stay within themselves, which anybody can learn from, right? I feel like any golfer tries to do more than they’re capable of at times.”