Reading LET boss Alexandra Armas’ plans to merge her tour with the LPGA and create a “cohesive, single women’s organization,” is music to my ears.
In an exclusive interview with Today’s Golfer, Armas called the move the “best thing for women’s golf,” and said she expects the merger to happen soon. I’m right behind it. It has been discussed in the past but never gotten over the line so I hope it can be agreed this time as it would be a fantastic move.
I’ve played on the Ladies European Tour and have a lot of friends trying to survive there and make a living, but we know it’s always been a very difficult place to do that. At times I’ve felt like it’s been left behind and as golf has grown and the professional game has had money poured into it from different angles and facets, it’s remained in a bit of a time warp.
But Armas is a force of nature and has done so much to grow the women’s game, so I am really pleased to hear and see a slightly bigger organization reaching out a hand to the LET and almost saying “Come on, there’s a lot happening in professional golf so let’s do this together.”
It’s only a few years since the Tour was under real threat of going under. From memory, I think they only managed eight events in the schedule, so the people who’ve managed to keep it alive deserve a real pat on the back.
There’s so much talent on the LET and it’s such an important platform for professional golfers not only in Europe but around the world. Just like the DP World Tour, the ladies tour has a rich history and it would be a tragedy to lose.
I hope it’s the start of more momentum in the women’s professional game because we’ve seen the LPGA partner with some big corporations and organizations, including the R&A, and that has really elevated their Tour. Unfortunately, the LET hasn’t had the same support and infrastructure, and no organization can grow or thrive without help.
It would be great if we could see the biggest names in the game coming over to Europe like we used to. We see it at the Women’s Scottish Open, but it needs to happen more often, not just for the Tour’s benefit but for the players’ benefit.
American golf courses are fantastic, this is no disrespect to them, but courses in Europe provide more nuance, variety, and idiosyncrasies. They call for players to produce different styles of golf depending on the course conditions and weather.
We’ll often talk about players needing to win around the world to be considered truly great. It’s all fair and good winning on one continent, but does your game travel?
We see greats of the game being made in those moments where they prove that they can win across the globe. The champions that go down in history are made through winning around the world by winning tournaments that are rich in history and there’s plenty of those in Europe.
My biggest hope for any merger is that the LET isn’t just forgotten and that it becomes a recognized part of the structure. The LET has already helped to expand the game globally with events like the Magical Kenya Open and that is the strive for us all – to take the women’s game to more people.
I have to praise Martin Slumbers and the R&A for the Women’s Golf Charter and the Women in Golf Leadership Programme which has been taken up by a lot of people. The target has to be about more than just getting more women to play golf but showing the opportunities the game can bring.
When a young girl goes to watch an LET event, of course, she’s dreaming of following in the footsteps of the stars, but she’ll also see their caddies, their support team, the physios, the hospitality, and event staff, and all of the organizations and brands that are engaging with women’s golf and that could prove inspirational.
Vicky Cuming of IMG is a great example. She manages a lot of the players, including Georgia Hall, and she’s a fabulous inspiration, who has worked in the women’s game for many years.
There are so many people in the world and it’s vital that we don’t just look at things through one lens because that’s very dull. We need multiple perspectives and viewpoints to make the game more interesting and appealing.
It’s about trying to show women that there are so many opportunities in golf and it’s a space where you’re extremely welcome. The Ladies European Tour is a very important part of that, and a merger would inevitably help progression and momentum.
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About the author
Iona Stephen – Broadcaster and Today’s Golfer contributor
Iona Stephen is a former professional golfer, who has played on the Ladies European Tour, and is a highly-respected golf broadcaster.
She joined Today’s Golfer as a regular contributor in 2023 and offers insight into the professional game from her life working on the world’s biggest tours.
Stephen’s career has seen her work for Sky Sports Golf, CBS, the BBC, and NBC Golf Channel covering everything from The Masters and The Open, to the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup. She has also hosted prize presentations to a global audience at some of the DP World Tour’s flagship events.
The Scotswoman is as comfortable covering the game from the commentary booth as she is broadcasting in front of the camera and from the course, where she is regularly seen interviewing the world’s best players during their rounds.
Alongside her television work, Stephen also has her own YouTube channel – On The Road With Iona – which has welcomed guests including Jon Rahm, Niall Horan, Rick Shiels, Bronte Law, and Martin Slumbers.
She is also the first-ever female on-course commentator in EA Sports gaming history and can be heard on PGA Tour Road to The Masters.
Outside of golf, Stephen is an ambassador for the charity BIG CHANGE, supporting young people throughout the UK to thrive in life, not just exams. She also has an interest in optimizing health and energy for elite performance in sports and life and has a diploma in sports nutrition and a level 2 PT qualification.
She is also a mentor as part of the Stephen Gallagher Foundation buddy system and has a degree in history of art from the University of St Andrews.