In America we have the U.S. Amateur - in Europe, the British Amateur. And now in Asia, there is the newly organized Asian Amateur championship, which has become fast-tracked for future years of continued success. And the LPGA announced it will play seven tournaments in Asia this season.
Based upon viewing - take away watching the competition side of the PGA and LPGA 2010 tour season on TV more than anything else - it was a showcase for watching the game's acceleration of international players from the other side of the Atlantic and their winning dominance as it quickly surpasses years of American supremacy. That now seems like a long time ago. It speaks to the global nature of the game, but it also says something about the state of American golf.
According to the LPGA, there are 128 active international players from 28 different countries currently playing on their tour. Korean players alone number nearly four dozen. Six of the top 10 LPGA 2010 money leaders were international. Focusing on this dynamic, one only had to scan the weekly leader board to see not only did their names consistently appear crowded around the top, but in the middle and the bottom as well.
It's obvious that both American tours are in dire need of an emergence of talented young American players who can not only win, but in doing so can heighten the spectator fan base and marketing appeal.
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Further, we need to bolster a pipeline of talented American junior and collegiate players. And PGA sections across the country must take more active roles in promoting and conducting tournaments for talented junior boys and girls in their sections. And South Carolina, the largest section in the country, should lead the way. So, let's come out and say it: Professional golf is coming off a year of dismal TV ratings. Besides spectatorship being down, multiyear sponsor marketing demand is declining and several TV and title contracts wavering for both tours' 2011 season. Discussions about the future are expected to begin soon.
With all that said, it's increasingly prevalent that the international brethren of the Far East has staked claim to become golf's next frontier, led by Asia and South Korean players.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.