If you are following golf in 2022, it won’t come as a surprise all the talk is about money in this disruptive year of golf and the LPGA Tour should not be left out of the conversation. Only this is cause for celebration — not division.
The talent pool is as deep as it has been since the beginning of the LPGA. The season has produced 26 winners in 31 tournaments, 11 of whom won for the first time on the LPGA Tour. Winners came from 14 countries. Americans led the way for the second straight year with eight titles.
And prize money? The winner from the 60-player field at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida received $2 million, the richest prize ever in women's golf. That's more than the total prize fund of 15 tournaments on the LPGA Tour schedule, and it's nearly 10 times as much as the highest base salary in the WNBA.
Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan recently announced a 2023 schedule that will push the total prize money to more than $100 million for the first time. That’s a win for the LPGA and female golfers.
What is the LPGA?
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is one of the longest-running women's professional sports associations in the world. Founded in 1950, the organization has grown from its roots as a playing tour into a nonprofit organization involved in every facet of golf. The LPGA Tour and the LPGA Professionals comprise the backbone of what has become the premier women's professional sports organization in the world today.
The LPGA maintains a strong focus on charity through its tournaments, its grassroots junior and women's programs, and its LPGA Foundation. The LPGA is under the guidance of Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan and is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Setting the Standard
The increase is incremental — the total purse was a record $93.5 million this year for 32 tournaments — and comes mainly from the biggest events.
“And the fact the LPGA has done it all on its own is even more remarkable,” stated Dottie Pepper, who retired from the LPGA Tour with 17 wins and two majors and now works as a CBS golf analyst. Her rookie season was 1988, when the total prize fund for the year was just under $10 million. That's what the U.S. Women's Open purse was this year.
“I remember in 1988 we had the Greater Washington Open a week after the U.S. Open, which was in Baltimore,” she said. “On Friday afternoon of the Open, there was a note in the locker room that the money was put in escrow because they were not sure if the tournament was going to happen. They couldn't say if they would have a purse."
It’s come a long way. The momentum is real.