Q&A: ALPG Boss Karen Lunn

Former touring pro Karen Lunn has held her role as ALPG CEO for almost four years.
As the stars of the women's game do battle in Scotland for the Women's British Open, it's a fitting time to feature our Q&A with ALPG CEO and former Women's British Open champion Karen Lunn.

In a playing career spanning almost 30 years, Lunn amassed 10 wins on the Ladies European Tour, highlighted by her Women's British Open victory in 1993 which spurred her on to top that year's LET money list.

Lunn began her role as ALPG boss in September 2013 and she shared her thoughts on the women's professional game and some of her memories as a competitor.


iSeekGolf (ISG): Do touring professionals have the best job in the world – or is it a lot more stressful than people realise?

Karen Lunn (KL): Both! It is a fantastic job, doing what you love, travelling the world and getting paid to do it. It can also be very stressful being away from family and friends and your support network for extended periods is challenging, especially if you are not playing well.  It can also be tough financially if you are missing cuts and not making money. I think for the women professionals it is even more difficult as in general we get less exposure which equals less sponsorship and we are playing for a lot less prizemoney!

ISG: As a rough ballpark figure, how much did it cost you each year to play the tour?

KL: It depends on where you are playing but the European Tour, I would say, €2,000 a week once you pay for travel, accommodation and a caddy, and the LPGA Tour around US$2,500 per week. If you play 25 weeks a year, that is €50,000 or US$62,500. That is before you pay for expenses on your weeks off or think about a mortgage or car payments. Obviously you can do it cheaper if you stay in private housing and take a local caddy but my attitude was always to do whatever gave me the best opportunity to play well.

ISG: If you weren’t a pro golfer, what would you have been doing?

KL: Probably in either the legal or financial sectors.

Lunn at the 2004 Women's Australian Open at Concord Golf Club in Sydney.

ISG: Would you support the formation of a genuine world golf tour (in the same way that ATP tennis has its global circuit)? 

KL: I think that the LPGA at the moment is effectively the world tour, but there are also other great tours including the LPGA of Japan, the Korean LPGA and the Ladies European Tour. In addition, there are the smaller tours such as the ALPG, China LPGA, Thai LPGA, and the Taiwan LPGA. I think that, for us, the focus should be on our region, there is a big opportunity to bring the smaller tours in Asia together and form an Asian Women’s Tour.

ISG: You can only play one course for the rest of your life: which one is it?

KL: Tough one, but probably Royal Birkdale.

ISG: How long, within reason, should it take three pros to play a round of tournament golf?

KL: 4 hours maximum.

ISG: Who was the best company among your professional peers, and why?

KL: I would have to say my friends on tour and my sister Mardi! It is a tough life without having good people around you.

ISG: What was the most annoying habit of your playing partners on tour?

KL: Not being ready to play when it is their turn, I still think that this is the biggest problem in the women’s game currently.

ISG: What conversation topics were you guaranteed to have with playing partners during a round?

KL: For me it was always about sport, most pro golfers are sports nuts including women!

During her tenure as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ladies European Tour, Lunn presents Annika Sorentam with a gift commemorating the Swede's retirement from competitive golf at the 2008 Dubai Ladies Masters.

ISG: What shot makes you most nervous?

a) A long bunker shot with trouble behind the green

b) A sliding two-metre putt to make the cut Without a doubt! 

c) An approach shot over water to a tight pin

d) The first tee shot of the day

e) Other: please explain

ISG: What one thing can be done to ‘sex up’ the game – and attract a whole new TV audience? Or does the game not need to be ‘sexed up’?

KL: I think that it is good that new models are being tried, but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel but rather look at new ways of engaging the fans and TV audience better.

ISG: If you saw a member of your playing group flagrantly break a rule of golf; what did you do?

KL: As a pro, you have an obligation to the rest of the field to call it.

ISG: How many times were you randomly tested for performance enhancing drug use in your career and do you think golfers should be tested more often?

KL: Never. I think that what is in place now on the major tours is sufficient.

ISG: Which do you regard as your greatest shot: when, where and in what circumstances?

KL: Probably the bunker shot on the 72nd hole at the Portuguese Open in 2012 where I needed to get up and down to win. I had not won a tournament since 1997 so it was a long time between drinks! Probably the second best shot was the putt from 4 feet to win!

ISG: Which shot would you like to have again: when, where and in what circumstances?

KL: On the LPGA Tour in 1997 I was leading the event in Charlotte with 3 holes to play, and hit it into the water on the par-3 16th hole. The pin was way back tucked over the ridge and I was right in between clubs. I had said to my caddy earlier in the week, 'whatever happens, if we get to this hole and the pin is back, don’t let me go for it if it is in between clubs'. Well I did and made a double and ended up finishing in third place. I was so angry at myself, but I was always a very aggressive player, in this case it was definitely to my detriment!

ISG: The Tiger Woods Question – Will he:

a) Win another major? No.

b) If not, will he win another tournament? I doubt it.

c) If not, will he ever finish top-10 again? Maybe.

d) If not, when do you think he’ll decide enough’s enough, and walk away? I think if he is healthy and plays a full season without any success he would walk away.


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