The year 2017 is one we’re unlikely to forget, with controversies and exciting moments plentiful, both on and off the fairways. We look back at five moments that defined the past twelve months.
Farewell Armchair Referees
Lexi Thompson's four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration may be a moment the American would rather forget, but the incident would have a far greater impact on one of golf more controversial rules.
After years of complaints, the penalty Lexi received after a TV viewer phoned in to report a minor infraction on the day previous, finally provided the catalyst for the R&A and USGA to undertake a major rules review, with golf’s governing bodies announcing new rules designed to ensure that the fiasco at the season’s opening major is now safely relegated to the history books.
With 100 proposed changes to the Rules of Golf unveiled in February with the intention of speeding up and simplifying the game, 2017 was finally the year the ball began rolling on much overdue modifications to golf's overcomplex rulebook.
Women’s Golf Day
Women’s golf is on course for even greater things next year, in no small part thanks to the pioneering work of Women’s Golf Day.
Riding on a wave of excitement surrounding the women’s game, the day, which took place on Tuesday 6 June, was a record-breaking success, with more than 704 venues spanning 46 countries holding events to celebrate the game.
WGD was one of several initiatives which looks set to propel the women’s game to greater things, with a number of other campaigns, including National Golf Month, putting the emphasis firmly on getting more females into the sport.
The Prodigious Rookie
Anyone lucky enough to have witnessed Sung Hyun Park’s flawless golf swing would know that the Korean youngster was destined for great things.
Few however could have predicted the speed with which she would rise the ranks. An unflappable demeaner, and, a swing that would rival the best player on any tour, would see her become the first player since Nancy Lopez to earn the Rookie of the Year and POY award in the same season.
Victory at the US Women’s Open would cap a sensational first year on Tour, with Park’s speedy ascension to the top cementing Korea’s dominance at the pinnacle of the women’s game.
The Changing Face of The Game
Like it or not, there is change afoot in the women’s game, with social media stars and trendy young professionals finally catapulting the sport into the twenty-first century.
Finding the delicate balance between tradition and modernity isn’t always easy however, as the LPGA found this July following their controversial decision to introduce a stricter dress code.
Skorts that revealed a player’s ‘bottom area’ and racorback tops were just two of the items banned from the fairways, with Michelle Wie among the players hardest hit by the new regulations.
The move, which was said to have been initiated by the golfers themselves, was met with a mixed response, with some commentators going as far as to call the regulations slut-shaming.
Trouble In Europe
The past year may have been an exciting one for women’s golf, but it has been played out against the backdrop of a period of uncertainty in Europe, with the future of the Ladies European Tour brought under increasing scrutiny.
With five events dropped from an already sparse schedule and rumours of financial collapse, many of Europe’s best players have been forced to stay at home for much of 2017.
Luckily the Solheim Cup was there to lift the spirits, a sensational tournament which served up one of the most exciting matches in the history of the event, an epic dual between Lexi Thompson and Anna Nordqvist that had us all gripped to the edge of our seats.
The decision by the LET to dismiss a joint proposal of help from the LPGA and European Tour, seemingly after receiving interest from potential sponsors after the gravity of the Tour’s issues became known, suggests that officials are optimistic about the future.
With the schedule due to be released for next season, players and fans alike will hoping that 2018 will be a year to remember for the LET for all the right reasons.
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