Women versus men in golf

There was an interesting discussion on Melbourne sports radio this week. Kevin Bartlett and Patrick Smith were debating whether the best woman player, Yani Tseng, could match it with world number one, Luke Donald, from 150 metres and in. The idea was that by removing power maybe Yseng could be competitive.

Bartlett’s opinion is that Donald would win while Smith was strongly in favour the other way. Here’s my take.

1. Because Donald would hit a much shorter club each time he would have to win. It’s far easier to hit an 8 iron over a 5 iron. This afternoon I happened to see the last hole of the Women’s Australian Open. From around 150 metres Hee Kyung Seo (not the best player in the world but a very good one) selected a 5 wood (it was into the wind but it wasn’t that strong). An elite male player would probably be hitting a 6 or 7 iron from the same position. Advantage to the men I’m afraid.

2. Power is still required from inside 150 metres. There are shots from the rough and bunkers. Plus, it takes more power to hit towering iron shots into tight pin positions. The men have a huge advantage so they’re able to get the ball closer to the pin. Closer to the pin equals less shots. It’s that simple.

3. Putting is possibly the only part of the game where power doesn’t come into it. I haven’t checked the stats, but I’m willing to bet that Donald would come out on top as well. (He went about a million holes last year without a 3-putt).

The bottom line?

Donald would win almost every time. I say “almost” because Tseng is a brilliant player and maybe on her best day, on a course set up in her favour, she could give Donald a run for his money. But I doubt it.

While certain sections of the media like to fantasize about Cinderella stories (it’s great for ratings) one shouldn’t let a good story get in the way of the facts.

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2 Comments

  • Mike Divot

    Reply Reply February 12, 2012

    Smith is usually pretty incisive in his commentary, but when it comes to “men versus women” stuff, he’s an affirmative action guy. (Otherwise he gets to sleep in the garage?)

    His other hobby horse is equal pay for men and women in tennis; I won’t make any comment on the merits for and against, but I bet you can guess which side he comes down on?

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 15, 2012

      I’m not much of a fan. I reckon he’s controversial just for the sake of it but I suppose it does pay the bills.

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