Welcome to Ron Sirak.com
The Legends of the LPGA are Reminders that Golf is a Game for Life
By Ron Sirak • @ronsirak
Among the many beauties of golf is the game’s ability to transcend time. There is no clock to slow-play in order to avoid hitting the next shot. There is no substitute that can hit that shot for you. Golf is all about the here and now. At the same time, the game has an ability to tie a perfect bow around the past, the present and the future.
While golf doesn’t stop the tick of time or halt the turn of the calendar page, the mental and physical challenges of the game age well, transitioning seamlessly from the exuberance of youth to the wisdom of age. While the expression of the skills may be altered by the passage of time, the shot-making demands remain the same.
Regardless of what the birth certificate says, the point of the game is to get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes than anyone else. The timeless beauty of that challenge was on display Sept. 10 at the Ridge Club in Sandwich, Mass., as 24 members of The Legends of the LPGA, the official tour for women 45 and older, didn’t so much roll back time as they pulled those in attendance into the world where they are now.
And that world is a very special place.
Among those at the BJ’S Charity Championship presented by P&G were World Golf Hall of Fame members Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster, Laura Davies, Hollis Stacy, Pat Bradley and Jan Stephenson as well as LPGA Tour major championship winners Jane Geddes, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, Pat Hurst, Liselotte Neumann and Cathy Johnston-Forbes along with 27-time LPGA winner Jane Blalock.
The format was a two-woman scramble with 12 teams competing for the $35,000 first prize. When all was said and done, Stephenson and Laura Diaz handled the Ridge Club in 13-under-par 58, one stroke better than Davies and Trish Johnson and three clear of Johnston-Forbes and Elaine Crosby.
“Jan and I made a really great team,” said Diaz, 46, who added her first Legends of the LPGA victory to the two LPGA Tour titles she claimed. “Laura was so positive right from the start,” said Stephenson, 69, who has four Legends victories.
There was a significant legend on hand to watch the Legends: Bobby Orr, the former Boston Bruin who many regard as the greatest hockey player of all time.
“It’s so great to see so much talent get together and compete at the game they’ve played so well for so many years,” said Orr, who stood at the first tee and watched every group tee off.
One of the lighter moments came when the first tee announcer introduced Davies as “winner of the 1918 U.S. Senior Women’s Open,” causing a double take and electric smile from Davies as well as waves of laughter from the several hundred fans. Davies won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2018 at historic Chicago Golf Club – an error of a mere 100 years.
In late July, at this year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open, Sorenstam competed in major championship golf for the first time in 13 years – and she was brilliant, winning by eight strokes. The distance control with her irons was as if the 72-time LPGA Tour winner with 10 major championships had never been away from competitive golf.
Sorenstam, who still leads the LPGA career money list, clearly enjoyed the fact that the Legends of the LPGA unites the joyous comradery of a college reunion with the intensity of competitive golf. More than the money, there is something else on the line – pride. Everyone wants to play well for the fans. And everyone wants to win.
“It’s so nice to see everyone,” said Sorenstam, who the day before the BJ’s Charity Championship played Pine Valley in New Jersey, the club perennially ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 among America’s great golf courses. In July, Pine Valley admitted its first three women members, which included Annika. The day after the BJ’s Charity Championship, Sorenstam went to New York City with her Rolex sponsors to watch the women’s finals of U.S. Open Tennis.
“You remember the swings,” Sorenstam said about reuniting with long-time foes. “And when you see that, it brings a smile. Then you tee is up and it is all about golf. We are still competitors. We play golf because we love it, but we also love to win.”
Sorenstam played the BJ’s Charity Championship with Suzy Whaley, who was the first woman to be president of the PGA of America. They finished at seven-under-par 64, along with Blalock/Meunier-Lebouc and Michelle McGann/Laurie Rinker.
Hurst and Inkster, the two most-recent captains of the U.S. Solheim Cup team, finished with a 62 while Rosie Jones/Michele Redman were at 63 along with Neumann/Alicia Dibos. Stacy/Geddes were at 67 with Lopez/Val skinner and Bradley/Wendy Ward at 69.
Among all the reasons for playing in a Legends of the LPGA event – the friendship, the competition, the networking with the business community attracted by BJ’s – there is also this compelling pull that attracts so many of the game’s greatest:
They know it is good for the game.
Just as they worked to grow the LPGA Tour – always striving to “act like a Founder,” as former Commissioner Mike Whan would preach – they are working now to grow the Legends of the LPGA. They know it all works toward the same goal:
To grow women’s golf and the overall game of golf.
That’s a mission that transcends time. And who better to carry the message than some legends of the game.
After all, golf is a game for life.