On Friday, September 30, Commissioner Mike Wahn granted Lexi Thompson’s petition for membership in the LPGA. The LPGA rules state that members need to be at least 18 years old to join the tour, though obviously exceptions can be made. Thompson, 16, submitted a petition for membership based on her tour win at the Navistar LPGA Classic earlier in September. She’ll be postponing her official start date on the tour until 2012, to start as a rookie. She’ll turn 17 in February.
Thompson is the youngest member ever to join the tour. Michelle Wie played tournaments when she was 15, but didn’t officially join the tour until 3 years later, after finishing Q school. Morgan Pressel, Aree Song, and Jessica Korda were granted waivers when they were 17, though they were close to their 18th birthdays and the high school educations complete or nearly so.
There is no doubt that Lexi Thompson is talented and she can compete on the highest professional level. She’s been home-schooled, and is planning to finish and graduate while also playing golf. I think that the tour should require kids to finish high school prior to starting the tour as a professional. That would insure that these ladies would have a basic education – golf is not forever.
The LPGA has been struggling lately with the loss of sponsors and uneven management. A new star certainly can’t hurt the ratings and attendance at LPGA events. Is joining the tour better for Lexi or better for the LPGA?