Women’s golf and its players are on the rise in money

When the LPGA sophomore player Allison Corpuz She parlayed her final putt of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links this month, winning the US Women’s Open with a memorable final round, paring past the leader and fending off rising competition in the Charlie Hull.

Corpuz also cashed a $2 million check on first place, which is more than double what Annika Sorenstam has won in all three of her US Women’s Open victories combined.

Despite the loss of ProMedica, the healthcare company, as presenting sponsor of The Open, the United States Golf Association increased its total prize purse by $1 million to $11 million this year.

It is part of a broader move in women’s professional golf to increase sponsorship for tournaments as well as for individual golfers. Over the past few years, tournament handbags have skyrocketed, new sponsors are scouting for golfers, and even players who aren’t at the top of their careers are reaping the benefits.

“Lifting portfolios continues to raise the bar for everyone,” said Molly Marco Semaan, Bar Commissioner.

At the tour level, the LPGA has increased prize money for players up and down the tour standings. This year, the total purse of 36 official events is more than $100 million. Ten years ago, that figure was $49 million, but even in 2021 it’s about $70 million.

Last year, 27 LPGA players won $1 million in prize money (up from 15 the year before). That number still pales in comparison to the men’s PGA Tour, where last year 126 players earned more than $1 million. (Only 125 players have full exempt status on the PGA Tour, which means that even players who couldn’t play every event or who qualified for all majors earned more than the LPGA’s top players.)

But Simeon and other leaders also focus on individual players. The Professional Footballers’ Association said that from 2021 to 2022, the world No. 1 player earned 22 percent more, but the 50-ranked player saw her earnings rise 44 percent. The 100th ranked player got a 30 percent increase, to $167,000 from $128,000.

While the best players in any sport will always be well compensated, golf is unique in that many players get cut every tournament and sometimes get nothing for the week.

“We also look to our partners and not just how to grow portfolios, but also to help on the expense side,” Samaan said. “Some of the challenges our players face is that half of them can’t play on the weekend of every week. Some sponsors include lump sum payments. Some offer stipends or travel bonuses for basic expenses.” But not all of them.

Another factor driving the growing interest – and money – in women’s golf is the desire among companies to sponsor both men and women. While a journeyman player on the PGA Tour has rarely wanted to be a sponsor, women, even those just below the senior ranks, often struggle.

Many companies, as part of broader efforts in diversity, equality, and inclusion, are seeking to add female gamers. Early on in this was KPMG, which started – and set a new standard – by continuing to push Stacy Lewis Under her sponsorship contract when she had her daughter in 2018.

Previously, golfers had to play a certain number of events in order to receive all of their sponsorship dollars. Instead, KPMG chose to do what it would have done for an employee who went on a family vacation. Many other sponsors have followed suit.

Aon, the risk management consulting firm, is now offering the same prize money to men and women in its year-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge, which evaluates a player’s overall score on a challenging gap in a tournament each week.

Lisette Salas, ranked 80th in the world and in its twelfth year as a professional, was sponsored by Aon. She said the conversations she had with sponsors were radically different today than when she started.

“In the beginning, the conversations were short,” she said. “I was very much promoting myself, rather than an agent or manager doing it. Now with more investments, the conversation between player and sponsor has changed. It’s created a more personal relationship between executives and player. I’m a big diversity and inclusion person. I’ve taken on a lot of corporate She’s sponsored such a big move in her comp as well. It’s refreshing.”

Small businesses also got the support of LPGA players. Cozen O’Connor, a Philadelphia-based law firm, has sponsored players on the PGA Tour for several years. She added this year Ally Ewingwho was the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2016, finished 11th in the US Women’s Open this year and was ranked 36th in the world.

“When we decided that player sponsorship was part of our brand strategy, we wanted to make sure it was inclusive,” said Michael Heller, CEO and CEO of Cozen O’Connor. “We wanted it to represent our company and our customers. It was important to add a player.”

The company chose Ewing because of her story: fighting type 1 diabetes, and succeeding at every level of the game.

Law firms, such as insurance and financial services companies, are a natural fit for the LPGA, given the history in those industries of using golf for entertainment and marketing.

Hull, the British golfer who made a spell at the US Women’s Open, has a sizable social media presence that has allowed her to get support from a variety of sponsors, including traditional golf brands like TaylorMade, financial advisor Hachiko Financial and a health supplement. .

“My early sponsors were brands that were already in golf and were looking to activate their partnerships, like Ricoh around the Ladies British Open, or Omega around the Olympics,” Hull said. “Now I feel like my sponsors are even more special to me, like Drink Mojo which is a supplement I use, or Hachiko, who help educate me on investing.”

Hull said her sponsors have changed as she’s grown as a player, and she’s okay with that.

“As I grew older and matured,” she said, “there were sponsors for me, and that’s not always on my behalf.” “A sponsor may be looking for a certain type of person to fit their role as ambassador, so as I get older, I may develop the kind of person they are looking for.”

The big players – who have the power to transcend the sport – have the most power in negotiating deals with their sponsors. Jessica Korda Who was ranked 14th in the world last year before his back injury, has signed a contract with FootJoy to dress him from head to toe. She was The first female player To sign such a deal with FootJoy.

She especially appreciates the sponsors who were with her when she started.

“My freshman year [2011]I played in 14 or 15 events, Korda said, and made about $50,000. “So having a sponsor really helped me cover the cost. We don’t have healthcare. We have to pay a lot out of our pockets. The expenses are very high.”

Korda, who has made $7.6 million on the golf course, said she hopes players are coming out of college now, in a different nurturing environment.

“It allows them to play with a little less pressure and not go paycheck for paycheck. That was a huge relief for me at the time. Now it goes with brands that I really enjoy.”