Nov
1
2011
Golf Mag’s POY Pick Prompts Protest (*Update)
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Well, at least this gives us something to argue talk about! Earlier today, Golf Magazine announced Rory McIlroy as its Player of the Year, triggering tweets of outrage that Yani Tseng was passed over.

Maybe so. I mean, obviously you can’t dispute Yani’s 11 worldwide wins, including seven LPGA tour events and two majors, along with ranking first in just about every statistical category (low scoring average, ranked No. 1 in the world, driving distance, etc.).

For the purpose of discussion and opinion, I think an argument can be made for several players, depending on how you judge POY — purely numbers or the bigger picture. (This Forbes.com contributor picked Keegan Bradley and called the “HP Byron Nelson Classic” — it’s actually “Championship” — a “high profile PGA Tour event.” Which it once was, but it’s been downgraded since Nelson passed away. I consider it a middle-of-the-road event).

I also saw several tweets accusing Golf of putting Rory on the cover to sell more magazines. Luke Donald even chimed in, posting on his Twitter:@EllingYelling @AlanShipnuck 96% of votes! So rude and disrespectful to Yani. Whoever had final decision just diminished your magazine.”

Strong words!

Unfortunately, there’s been some misunderstanding over the decision to put Rory on the cover, which happens sometimes in the 140-character form, along with bad timing.

Let’s put today’s controversy into context.

Last week Golf.com asked its readers to vote for POY, with the options being Donald, McIlroy, Bradley and Yani. The poll results show that 96% picked Yani.

Yesterday Golf.com posted in its Press Tent blog announcing the results with the headline: “Landslide! Golf.com users pick Yani for Player of the Year.”

The recent poll was not related to the magazine’s POY, which was chosen by the editors in late summer. (To clarify, there’s not a vote by all staff members — it’s a decision made by the higher-ups.) Putting together a magazine isn’t like printing a newspaper or posting a blog — it takes months of planning ahead to publish Golf because there needs to be time to write the in-depth stories (especially with the instruction pieces) and schedule photo shoots, etc. It’s not as easy as clicking a button on the computer.

And then today, Golf.com’s front-page story was Golf Magazine‘s POY.

With the close proximity in the timing of the users poll, blog post and Golf‘s POY announcement, I can see why readers were confused, so I hope I clarified some things.

Truth is, Yani was probably overlooked because of the LPGA’s stop-and-go schedule and smaller fan base, but arguably, Rory is POY if you take into account historical impact and perspective from the general public — with his meltdown at the Masters to his dominating victory at the U.S. Open.

All of this has turned out well for Golf.com and Golf Magazine since it caused quite a stir and triggered a discussion (and lots of people yelling at the magazine), which might sell more magazines and generate more page views. As the saying goes: being talked about is better than not being talked about. Just ask Kim Kardashian.

*Update: According to a Golf.com editor. the POY reader poll went viral in Yani’s native Taiwan. Usually, they get a few hundred responses, but in this case, they got over 5,000, and a third of the comments on Golf‘s Facebook page were in Chinese.