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A few thoughts on what it takes to make it on the LPGA Tour

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Many young juniors aspire to play professionally. With all the coverage that the PGA and even Web.com Tours get, junior boys have a pretty good idea of what it takes to not only play on the PGA Tour but also thrive.

With less coverage of the LPGA Tour, junior girls have to dig a little deeper to figure out what it takes to make it to the LPGA and thrive on that tour. Using the stat categories on the LPGA Tour, and looking at the person at spot 100 for each of these categories, will give junior girls good insight to making it on tour.

Let’s start with how much money is earned by the 100th ranked player (Brianna Do, pictured in the featured image) for the 2018 season. You may think earning $113,220 is a pretty good living. For most jobs this is great, but being on the LPGA Tour you’ll have to consider all the expenses. Securing sponsors is a must to be able to actually thrive on the tour.

Next up, let’s learn what you have to shoot to earn that $113K. For the 2018 season, a 72.61 scoring average got you ranked 100th. This shows how “good these girls are.” Averaging just a hair over par for the season is very impressive when considering all the stress the players are under. Throughout the season not only do you need to keep it around par to just be ranked 100th, you also need to shoot under par in one third of your rounds.

So, just like setting goals you have to break down those goals to manageable action steps. The goal of averaging 72 and posting red number one out of three rounds can be broken down to the skills that get you there. The game, even on the women’s side is leaning towards the power game. And this is highlighted by the fact that by hitting it off the tee 250 yards on average lands you at number 100 for driving distance. Keep building up your speed and your smash factor.

While power is a plus, Mark Brodie’s research will lead you down the path of the importance of hitting the green in regulation. Also Scott Fawcett of DECADE can further enhance the importance of not only hitting the green, but when to be aggressive for flags. The LPGA player finding herself ranked 100th for GIR hits 65 percent, and if you’re curious the best player hit 78 percent GIR during 2018 season.

There are definitely more skills to focus on to be able to make your way to the tour and thrive on the tour. Hopefully this highlights a few areas to cast light on reality of how close older juniors or college players are as they pursue their dreams. Take it from someone who gave it a shot, put the work in and enjoy the journey.

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Erin is the Director of Student Athlete Development and Women's Golf Coach at Wingate University. Erin holds a Masters of Arts in Sports Management from Wingate University and is Class A member of the PGA of Canada, a member of the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, and two time SAC Coach of the Year. She aims to help guide student athletes through their time at Wingate, making connections of what they learn in their sport and how they can apply it their careers after graduation.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. dj

    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    “LPGA like the WNBA just doesn’t attract viewers at a high rate….just the way it is.”

    That being said, this article does expound upon the idea that LPGA players are very good and it takes dedication and hard work to make a living playing golf.

    • Tom

      Feb 12, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      Yeah, takes a lot of dedication to practice….perhaps that’s why Asians seem to dominate now.

  2. Tom

    Feb 12, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    LPGA like the WNBA just doesn’t attract viewers at a high rate….just the way it is.

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WRX Insider: How the Callaway tour staff matches up golf ball and irons

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So, when testing players, how does the team at Callaway dial in the ball and the irons to work in harmony with each other?

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I had a chance to speak with Callaway Golf Ball R&D specialist Nick Yontz and Director of Tour Operations Jacob Davidson on dialing in the ball and the irons to match up with the best players in the world.

JW: How much do you depend on Nick’s expertise throughout the season, especially with new irons (X Forged and Apex MB) having just hit the market?

JD: Any time we launch a new product, it’s essential for the tour team to know how the new product will perform. Nick provides in-depth data on how our golf ball will perform with the new products. When you look at the golf bag, there is one constant variable and that’s the golf ball. Our ultimate goal is to collaborate with the iron engineers and golf ball engineers to design a product that works together to help golfers play better. Nick Yontz is a tremendous resource for our tour team and has worked closely with several major winners in his career. We lean on him weekly for insight into in-depth product performance and future prototype products.

JW: When considering the spin off of the irons for a player like Xander, is he working around one number or are the multiple spin windows to hit?

JD: Spin rates can vary from player to player depending on clubhead delivery and launch numbers. Currently, we’ve worked hard to get Xander’s iron spin rates into a range that we feel allows him to hit a variety of shots to play his best golf.

JW: Let’s look at an LPGA profile for a player like Anne van Dam. Where does Chrome Soft X benefit her the most? 

NY: The Chrome Soft X has blended with Anne’s club set up in a way that she can be an excellent driver of the golf ball, while better controlling iron and wedge spin rates compared to her previous golf ball.

JW: If a player is looking for a higher launch window with the irons, what tweaks are you making, all while honoring the specific DNA of a player’s bag?

JD: There are several different levers we can move in order to raise the launch window. However, in order to determine which lever makes the most sense you have to fully understand the player’s bag. In order to do this, each club has to be studied deeply to know the cause and effects of a change. After we have completed this process, we will look at what options will best fit the player.

JW: As you look at the numbers, where do you see the improvements (gains) with the CS X vs what you saw with previous balls?

NY: Across the board, we’ve seen measurable ball-speed gains on the launch monitor during player testing sessions. It’s exciting for them and us when they reach driver ball speeds (and distances) that they couldn’t before!

JW: On the PGA Tour, is there an overall RPM profile that all players chase or is it player specific?

*question based on general rule of number on club x 1000 RPM IE 7 iron spins at 7000 RPM

JD: Our goal at Callaway is to move all of our staff players into optimal ranges in an iron spin. Our 2020 golf ball and the iron lineup has allowed us to move several players bags into a more optimal range this year. We work closely with the player, instructor, and caddie to constantly find ways to improve performance.

JW: In regards to working with a Champions Tour Player that has gone from Balata into CSX. Is that player still playing out of the same launch windows that he has for years or is he having to adjust for new technology?

NY: There are some differences in modern equipment that we hear from players that have played over multiple decades. The shape of the trajectory is an example. Current trajectories can look flatter or may get up higher sooner in the flight than a balata did. Players who have experienced balata and modern balls also talk about the amount of lateral movement being less today.

JW: Discuss how you guys work together on a week to week basis. What does it look like?

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NY: Jacob and the entire tour team knows each tour player at the deepest level. For example, knowing each player’s swing tendencies and look preferences enhances the raw numbers we collect. Tour players are the best product testers in the world that push us to make better equipment.

JW: Can you both talk to me about the importance of spin with your irons?

JD: It’s much easier to take spin off than to add it from the fairway. The majority of shots that a tour player hits during a round of golf will be off-speed. When you reduce speed, spin also reduces. We’ve found that when we are fitting a player to a golf ball and irons, it’s imperative to pay close attention to how much reduction in spin comes from off-speed shots.

NY: Completely agree with Jacob. While we will do work on the driving range with a player, we need to see how it performs on the golf course in different situations as well (fairway/first-cut/rough, headwind/downwind/morning dew…)

Opinion

It may seem trivial, but to me, this is the secret sauce of really making a bag and fitting work for you. Pay attention to ball speed and launch but mostly spin rates. If the ball doesn’t spin you can’t control it—I don’t care how high it goes or steep it lands.

In the past year, I have focused way more on proper spin with my irons than ever before. What I have found is when 4-PW are in the right spin windows, which for me is around 6,800 RPM with a 7 iron, my iron play has improved dramatically.

See the PGA and LPGA TrackMan averages from 2019 below. At my age and speed, I actually strive to stay right in between the averages for both tours. It’s not only realistic for me but also has actually helped.

 

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