Mr. Ty M. Votaw
Ladies Professional Golf Association
I know you're just starting out on the job, but let me call your attention to a couple of absurdities involving the LPGA that you are now in a position to correct.
I recently read in this magazine that Jane Blalock had never won a major championship and thought, That's wrong, Blalock won the Dinah Shore, in fact the very first one in 1972. What I didn't realize until I looked it up in the LPGA Media Guide was that it wasn't until 1983 that the Dinah became a major.
O.K. Nothing wrong with designating one of your top events a major. But who in the world made the cockeyed decision that all previous champions of the Dinah would not be given credit for winning a major? It's not as if the tournament in those early years was a female version of the Quad Cities. Almost from its inception, the players considered the Dinah second only to the U.S. Open in importance. The list of pre-'83 winners is laced with all-stars: Blalock, Mickey Wright, Sandra Palmer, Judy Rankin, Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Post two years running, Donna Caponi and Nancy Lopez.
Let's look at a parallel situation. When Gene Sarazen made his famed double-eagle at Augusta in 1935 and won the second Masters, no one congratulated him on winning a major, thus becoming the first player to win all four Grand Slam events. It took time before the Masters was recognized as one of golf's Big Four—no one is sure exactly when—but when it did happen, all past winners got credit for a major.
Now, Ty, imagine telling Ben Hogan that although he, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead have a collective six green jackets, they won no major championships at Augusta. Chances are you might have had that one-iron Ben hit at Merion in 1950 wrapped around your neck.
While I have your attention, let me point out another injustice you should correct. The LPGA took a step in the right direction in February, when it altered its rules for admission into the Hall of Fame, allowing Amy Alcott and Beth Daniel entry. However, the system is still flawed, and not just because the new rules only apply to active players. Case in point: Hollis Stacy has won 18 tournaments, three of them U.S. Opens, but she's still outside the Hall, tapping on the window. Do you think that Hale Irwin, with 20 wins, three of them Opens, isn't in the World Golf Hall of Fame? What's really ludicrous is that if Stacy wins two more Opens, she would still not qualify for the Hall under the LPGA's new point system. That's crazy.
Under the new criteria a major counts only two points versus one for, say, the Firstar Classic. Ridiculous. Majors are more important than that. What is also unfair to Stacy and the other women who were in their prime from the late '60s to the late '70s is that there were only two majors to compete for, not four, as there had been years before and as there are again today. You had the Open and the LPGA Championship, period. Susie Berning won three Opens in six years. Got to do better than that, Susie. Caponi won back-to-back Opens in 1969-70, plus a pair of LPGAs. She also won the Dinah in '80 and the Peter Jackson Classic (now called the du Maurier) three years before it became a major. In my book that's the Grand Slam. What does the LPGA say? Very impressive, Donna, but not good enough.
Three other outstanding players who, during their primes, had a crack at only two majors were Blalock, Palmer and Rankin, who won 71 tournaments collectively, but only two official majors, Palmer's '72 Title-holders and '75 Open. None of these women are in the Hall.
So what can you do about all this, Ty? First, I suggest that while you're in Rancho Mirage this week, ask the 13 Dinah Shore winners since 1983 whether or not the past champions should be given credit for a major. Maybe put it to a vote. You can do it, Ty. You da man.