AIG Women’s British Open Purse Increase

AIG and The R&A “put their money where they mouth is” with a new record overall purse for a women’s golf major. The purse total is $5.8 million with $870,000 for the winner. And they announced they are committed to raising the 2022 purse by a million to $6.8 million. The purse increase announced by AIG and The R&A is great news for women’s professional golf.

At least for the majors, I’m happy to see in 2021 things are moving in the right direction. For example, back in 2012 the USGA’s purse for the U.S. Women’s Open was $3.25 million with $585K going to the winner and in 2021, the U.S. Women’s Open purse total was $5.5 million with $1 million to the winner.

I do find it interesting that sponsors for the women’s majors get to associate their name with the major. For example the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship versus the men’s PGA Championship. But if that is the price to pay for higher pay for the women the so be it.

The USGA has a history of having the highest purses for the majors and with Mike Whan, former commissioner of the LPGA as the new CEO of the USGA, I’m hoping that he makes a big statement for women’s golf in 2022. I would love to see the governing body be the first golf organization to have the men’s and women’s purses be the same amount — a girl can dream!

The chart below lists the purses for both the women’s and men’s majors for 2021. I do care about pay equity and wrote about it in my 2012 blog “The Gender Gap in Golf Prize Money”. I’m not going to go in to deep comparison because that would require looking at regular season tour events (as I did in 2012). My hope would be that perhaps one day sponsors will see the value of women’s golf equal to men’s golf and the money will follow.

I am providing a chart because I know readers (as I did) will wonder what the payouts were in 2021 so I did the research for anyone taking the time to read my blog.

Women’s MajorsTotal PurseWinner’s ShareMen’s MajorsTotal PurseWinner’s Share
U.S. Women’s Open$5.5 Million$1 MillionU.S. Open$12.5 Million$2.25 Million
AIG Women’s British Open$5,8 Million$870KBritish Open$11.5 Million$2.07 Million
KPMG PGA Championship$4,5 Million$675KPGA Championship$12 Million$2.16 Million
ANA Inspiration$3.1 Million$465KThe Masters$11.5 Million$2.07 Million
Evian Championship$4.5 Million$675K   

Major Losses Overshadowing Victories

As I watched the television coverage from the Masters I noticed that when analysts recalled the 2016 Masters, they did not speak of Danny Willett’s win, they focused on Jordan Spieth’s meltdown. Spieth had a five shot lead when he came to the back nine then disaster — bogeys on 10 and 11 followed by a quadruple-bogey (seven) on hole 12. Willett shot a bogey free 67 but that doesn’t matter because most golfers remember Spieth losing the Masters. Plus, it doesn’t help that Willett has played horribly since winning.

The ANA Inspiration is another example. Can you name the winner of the 2017 ANA? I bet if you are a golf fan you vividly remember that Lexi Thompson was assessed a four-stroke penalty due to a Rules infraction that occurred during Saturday’s third round which was “phoned-in” by a fan watching the broadcast. Thompson played through tear-filled eyes to give herself a chance in a playoff against So Yeon Ryu and Ryu won.

As with the Masters, much of the golf coverage leading up to the 2018 ANA championship focused on what happened to Lexi Thompson in 2017 thus taking away from the normal focus on the previous winner.

I cannot remember who won the  2012 Kraft Nabisco (now called the ANA Inspiration) but I remember the image of I.K. Kim missing a one-foot putt for the win. I had to look up the winner – I.K. Kim lost to Sun Young Yoo. Or should I say Sun Young Yoo won the 2012 Kraft Nabisco in a playoff.

I would guess most golf fans cannot tell you who won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open but they will remember Anna Nordqvist was assessed a two-stroke penalty because a television viewer “phoned-in” that her club had grazed the sand in the bunker. This did impact the championship outcome with Brittany Lang coming out on top.

A true golf fan will know the name Jean Van de Velde. Van de Velde is famous for his meltdown at the 1999 British Open. Every year the video of Van de Velde’s meltdown is shown sometime during the week of the British Open. I had to look up the winner, it was Paul Laurie.

Even Jordan Spieth’s 2015 U.S. Open win at Chambers Bay will always have an asterisk noting Dustin Johnson’s 3-putt on the 18th hole causing him to lose the championship. Most golf fans were not shocked that Spieth won but how he won was shocking. Of course, redemption came when DJ won the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

The bottom line is “a win is a win” (as the saying goes) but it must be frustrating for a winner who’s victory will always be overshadowed by the story of the person that lost.

Great Day for Women’s Golf: Augusta National Announces a Women’s Amateur Championship

For years I have been wishing Augusta National would take “meaningful action” to support women’s golf. Yes, Augusta welcomed female members in 2012 when Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore were extended invitations to join the club. However like most women who love golf, and as a fan of women’s golf, I wanted to see women play Augusta National.

Today the announcement came! Perhaps this announcement was not the one that women professional golfers hoped for but the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship is monumental for women’s golf. Here is the post from Twitter:

Masters Announcement on Twitter

Augusta National Tweet – Women’s Amateur Championship

The event being conducted within the same time frame as Drive, Chip and Putt and The Masters is excellent! The event will be held right before DCP (the wonderful golf championship for young golfers). Just imagine a young girl participating in DCP, watching the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship and knowing that one day (if she works hard) she may be playing the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship!

Of course, the big question for the LPGA is what does this mean for the ANA Inspiration? Will the top female amateurs, who normally play the ANA Inspiration, now have to choose between the two events? My guess is the LPGA will move the ANA (perhaps the week before the new amateur event). After all, it would be a communications manager’s dream story line – promoting the opportunity to watch the top amateur female golfers playing in the ANA Inspiration who will be then playing in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship the following week.  And if the ANA is after the event, the LPGA promotes the winner of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur playing in the LPGA’s first major of the year. I say it’s a win/win for the LPGA (unless they do not move the date of the ANA)

I can’t wait until 2019 when I can watch the inaugural Augusta National Amateur Women’s Championship.

It’s a good day for women’s golf!

Book Review: “The Making of the Masters” by David Owen

If you are looking for a book that is specifically about the course architecture of Augusta National, this book is probably not the one to read. However, chapter five does provide hole-by-hole descriptions and contains great photos. All photos are pre-1999 when the book was published. So for example, there is a photo of the Eisenhower tree in the book which was removed from the 17th hole in 2014.

The book is a biography. The history of Augusta National and The Masters are revealed by examining the life of Clifford Roberts, Chairman of Augusta National from 1931 to 1977.  I love biographies and found the life of Clifford Roberts to be very interesting. For example, Robert’s early life was depicted as happy but also shaped by his mother’s depression (and her suicide when he was 16). He struggled early his professional life which is not surprising given he started an investment firm in the 1920s (and faced financial ruin during the crash).

Roberts achieved great success as the chairman of Augusta National. He certainly had fascinating aspects of his life including his friendship with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Surprisingly Roberts had his “own room” at the white house while Eisenhower was president. Roberts is also portrayed as a very difficult man (labels such as “tyrant” and “dictator” were used in the press). As with all human beings, he was complicated and the book states that his friends and people that he helped experienced another side of Roberts. I found the end of his life rather sad, but I won’t spoil the book by revealing how his life ends.

The book details the impact Roberts had on what The Masters is today. And, many of his decisions also had an impact on how golf championships are run (e.g., tournaments equaling four rounds of golf, the way golf is televised, the importance of creating good “stadium” views for spectators, etc.). The limited commercial breaks during The Masters was a requirement placed on CBS (by Roberts) in the very early years of the tournament. Roberts also insisted that the television cables be buried on the course.

Roberts also had to manage the ups and downs of the founding of Augusta National golf club. It will shock most people to know that they had trouble getting members! It’s a great example of perseverance and a reminder of how things that are famous today could just have easily had a very different outcome if not for someone like Roberts at the helm.

If you like biographies and golf then definitely get a copy of this book at your local library (or by it on Amazon) and read it!

The Author: David Owen

If the name David Owen sounds familiar it may be that you read the New Yorker or Golf Digest. Mr. Owen also has a blog, “My Usual Game: Adventures in Golf.” His most recent non-golf book is “Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River.”