Seems incongruous just a day after International Women’s Golf Day to think this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at the Olympic club features a prize fund of $5 million while the top PGA Tour players are competing for a total purse of $9.3 million in Muirfield Village, Ohio.
Whoever wins the Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus’s golf course takes home $1.7 million, $700,000 more than the U.S Women’s Open winner. Don’t know about you, but I’m far more interested in who wins the U.S. Women’s Open than who wins the Memorial.
How long do we have to go before we reach parity in golf? Based on the opening paragraph, an awful long way. I’m not even comparing apples with apples. Bryson DeChambeau became $2.25 million richer for winning last year’s $12.5 million U.S. Open, with this year’s purse expected to be more than that.
And if you’re looking for greater disparity, the winner at Muirfield Village will earn seven times the total prize fund for this week’s Jabra Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour.
It’s not just at the top level that there’s a disparity in the men’s and women’s game. Until Justin and Kate Rose came along and generously dipped into their own private piggy bank to fund the Liz Young–inspired Rose Ladies Series, there was no such thing as a dedicated mini-tour for women golfers in the British Isles. Aspiring male professionals have had a plethora of mini circuits through the years on which to hone their skills in preparation for the European Tour. Ian Poulter came through the old MasterCard Tour back in the 1990s.
It’s only recently women could tee it up in mini-tours with men on the likes of the Clutch and Jamega Tours. There is an LET Access Tour to rival the European Challenge Tour, but playing that circuit is an expensive endeavour since it’s based mainly on Continental Europe. It carries the same expenses as the LET circuit but with a fraction of the prize money.
In short, any woman with an ounce of talent dreaming of playing at the top level needs to come from a rich family or have a rich benefactor(s) to be able to fund her dreams. No wonder so many women have given up on life as a tour professional.
It’s amazing to think England’s Karen Stupples (pictured) came close to that point yet went on to become a major champion, winning the 2004 Women’s Open at Sunningdale.
Will we ever reach a point where men and women compete for equal prize money in major championships as they do in tennis? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breathe.
Twenty four hours after International Women’s Golf Day is a good time to reflect on the state our game. Yes, a lot of people are putting in a lot of effort to get women and girls into golf, but just the need for one day of the year to celebrate women in golf is surely a sad reflection on our game. After all, we don’t need one special day to celebrate International Men’s Golf Day: every day is men’s golf day. It’s been that way since the game began.
Still, the winner of this week’s U.S. Women’s Open should be set for life if she invests the $1 million prize money wisely. Meanwhile, 10 players on the ludicrously rich PGA Tour will benefit from a $40 million popularity contest running throughout this season.
It really is a man’s golf world.
#JustSaying: “People didn’t really give me much of a chance when I turned pro. They told me I should get a proper job because I wasn’t going to make it.” 2004 Women’s Open champion Karen Stupples