Dear Commissioner Whan,
It was a great pleasure several weeks ago to attend my second consecutive ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer in Galloway Township, New Jersey. Once again, the LPGA put on a tremendous event for the spectators and the players shined with their play in some challenging weather conditions. The galleries were strong all weekend giving the tournament a special competitive feel. I’m actually writing to give you an example of how the important work you do and the efforts of the women on the course have made an impact on me in becoming a huge fan of the LPGA.
The LPGA have given me countless hours of sports entertainment over the years at venues in many different locations. My first exposure to the tour was in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Lady Leystone Open. Sadly, that tournament ended, but, thanks to my in-laws inviting me to use their condo at Stratton Mountain, Vermont, I was able to enjoy several years of the LPGA at the McCall’s Classic. Not long after the end of the Vermont event, Betsy King rallied her home community of Berks County and organized the Betsy King Classic at the Berkleigh Country Club. I am proud to say that in its decade-long run, I never missed a round! It was here that my most memorable experience occurred and one with which I believe exemplifies what is great about the tour.
It was at the 2nd green in the morning of the 3rd round of the 2002 tournament when I was trying to decide whom to follow for a few holes. The pairings sheet showed that Angela Stanford was at -6 and coming up the fairway so I decided to go with her group. She proceeded to sink a very long birdie putt at the 2nd and when I applauded her effort, she looked over, smiled and waved. I wasn’t too hard to pick out as I was the only non-volunteer! She proceeded to make birdie after birdie and each time when I would clap and congratulate her walking off the green, she would smile and thank me. I kept thinking…lots of spectators are missing a great show by this young golfer. Oh well!!
Angela went on to shoot a 6-under 66 and after she finished, I walked to an area near the scorer’s tent to figure out my strategy for the rest of the day knowing Angela’s performance would be tough to top! As I was getting ready to move on, her caddy caught my attention and waved me over by the tent. He said that Angela wanted to say hello to me after she signed her card. I was thrilled! She came out smiling, shook my hand and thanked me for following her for the entire round. She then reached in her golf bag and pulled out a ball which she signed and gave to me. That ball sits proudly on my sports display shelf in my office to this day!
While this may happen time and again on the tour, it had a profound impact on me as a fan of the LPGA. Having been with my Dad to PGA events when I was young, I remember the PGA players being rather cold and indifferent to spectators. In my years of attending LPGA events, players have always showed great respect and appreciation for the galleries by signing autographs, acknowledging gallery support on the course and being very welcoming to spectators. However, Angela Stanford’s kindness and extraordinary effort to thank me personally was very special and I have shared that story with others as an example of how the LPGA, unlike other professional sports, brings great athletes and fans closer together.
I want to express to you my thanks and appreciation for all that you have done to grow the tour in terms of the number of events, title sponsors and global reach. Although, I hope the tour returns permanently to central Pennsylvania at some point in the future, please be assured that I will continue to support the LPGA and attend tournaments as often as possible. In my opinion, there is no better value for your money than a ticket to see the best women golfers in the world. The cost of my weekly grounds pass at ShopRite may have bought me a beer and hot dog at the Super Bowl and possible a parking space at the World Series. Instead, it provided me with over 30 hours of tremendous golf competition!
The 2015 U.S. Women’s Open will be help only 30 minutes from my home and my tickets were long ago secured. The opportunity to attend this major championship for the second time is exciting and it cannot get here soon enough!
Very best wishes to you, your staff and all the exceptional people at the LPGA for their dedication to this extraordinary organization!