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  • Alistair Tait

On The Road To Major Golf Parity?

Will we ever see the day when women receive the same prize money for winning golf majors as men get for winning grand slam tournaments?

We’re getting there, but the gap is still huge.

This week’s announcement of a 23% prize fund increase to $9 million for the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath is to be lauded. The announcement makes the Women’s Open the third highest prize fund in women’s golf. Here’s the breakdown for the women’s majors, with winner’s prizes in the third column:

U.S. Women’s Open $11 million $2 million

KPMG PGA $10 million $1.5 million

AIG Women’s Open $9 million $1.35 million

Amundi Evian $6.5 million $1 million

The Chevron $5.1 million $765,000

That’s a combined $41.6 million for the tournaments that really matter. Good stuff. Who’d have thought 10 or 20 years ago women would be playing for such bonanzas? A cheque for $1.35 million for this week’s winner is life changing.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has made increasing participation among young girls and women one of the planks of his tenure. Increasing prize money for the Women’s Open surely has to help that goal?

“We have a clear vision for the AIG Women’s Open; we want to see the best women golfers compete on the best golf courses in front of large crowds and show us how good they are,” Slumbers said.
“When I look around at the 2023 AIG Women’s Open and what we have achieved in five years, I am incredibly proud; but even more so, I am inspired by what we can still do. The future of women’s golf is bright and it is up to us, with the support of the wider industry, to take bold steps, in a way that is financially sustainable, to ensure our aspirations become reality.”

As for the men and their majors? Here we go:

U.S. Open $20 million $3.6 million

The Masters $18 million $3.24 million

The PGA $17.5 million $3.15 million

The Open $16.5 million $3 million

That’s $72 million for the men's marquee events, a $30.4 million gap, and the women have one more major.

Once again, will we ever see the day when our top men and women play for equal prize money in the only tournaments that matter? Good question. I’d like to think so. This week’s announcement, along with increases in prize funds for the other women’s majors, make for promising news going forward.

The Majors: Gone In A Flash

This week marks the beginning of the end of the professional golf season. The $9 million AIG Women’s Open, which started today at Walton Heath, brings down the curtain on a major show that began on the 6th of April with the Masters.

Don’t get your calculators out: I’ve already done that. When the 2023 Women’s Open Champion lifts the trophy on Sunday and collects her check for $1.35 million, it’ll will be precisely 130 days since Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson hit the honorary shots to kick off the Masters.

Nine events in just one hundred and thirty days. Surely the events that define the game should be spread out much further than 130 days? The women’s game had the ridiculous situation where the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open were played in consecutive weeks.

The men’s majors were crammed into just 109 days this year. What’s the hurry?

Oh well, we only have to wait another 239 days until the next meaningful golf tournament, when Nicklaus, Player and Watson gather again to kick off the chase for golf’s most garish, yet coveted, blazer.

Thank goodness for the Ryder Cup. It provides a welcome respite in a sea of meaningless 72-hole events that melt boringly into each other on a week-to-week basis. Ho, hum.

So enjoy this week’s action from Walton Heath, because it’s a long time until the game’s best take another trip down Magnolia Lane.

#JustSaying: “I'm excited to see where women's golf goes. We've had purse increases in a lot of our major championships, and even other tournaments outside of that. So it's growth, and we've seen an increase in little girls coming out to spectate.” Lydia Ko

Photograph courtesy of the R&A

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