Editor Emma Ballard gives three positives for women's golf off the back of another turbulent week in the men's professional game
I set my stall early this year about how I thought women’s golf could thrive at all levels of the game in 2024. When writing the opinion piece, I did not expect to be referencing it again a month later, but I've felt compelled to do so after another rocky week in men’s professional golf.
Not only does this week signify the return of LIV Golf but it just so happened to coincide with the announcement that the PGA Tour had launched a new commercial venture called PGA Tour Enterprises – within that, the new venture had partnered with Strategic Sports Group which would see an initial $1.5 billion invested with up to $3 billion available. Eye-watering sums of money. Ultimately players gain equity in the business, prize funds are secured and will most likely rise and rich men get richer.
You may wonder what this has to do with women’s professional golf... Well, I asked myself the same question as I scrolled through my social media feeds to gain the vocal fans and media reaction to the news.
The words ‘professional golf’ and ‘golf fans’ appeared a lot, but when you looked at the context or content of the post or article, it was clearly referencing men’s professional golf and men’s golf fans.
I think LET player Meg MacLaren summed it up with the following on X (formerly Twitter):
I get that you don’t need to define men’s golf if you’re clearly talking about the PGA Tour but what irked me was that this ultimately implied that the issues, money etc were a problem for the whole of professional golf when quite obviously, in this case, it was affecting just the men’s game.
Lines like “billions invested into professional golf” and “golf’s greed problem” – are definitely not related to women’s professional golf. Who knows whether we will ever get to the point where $1.5 billion is invested into the women’s game but seeing the fallout and unsavoury dealings over the last three years, I’m not sure it’s something that women should want to aspire to, well not in this way.
Three positives for women's golf
Anyway, to my point, last month I noted that gender bias and not using ‘men’ or ‘men’s’ needs to be addressed because I believe that for all “golf’s problems” this week, women’s golf actually had positives to take away from it.
Women’s golf isn’t part of the conversation, I mean that in a good way. Whilst the references were to golf as a whole, it was men’s golf taking centre stage. Although there may be a slight knock-on effect with being in the same business of golf. It’s the men who have had their greed and in some cases contempt for men’s golf fans highlighted.
Talking of men’s golf fans. Quite a number are genuinely fed up with the men’s game, turned off by the money, the format and power struggles at the top. But, they are (or were) fans of golf, so this provides a fantastic opportunity for the women’s game to engage with this audience. Building on what drew these fans to the game in the first place – style, finesse, game play, all of which the women have in abundance – not the smash and grab of the current driver then wedge game when you tune into men’s golf.
Also, women’s professional golf will continue in its upward trajectory despite the men’s game continually dragging the sport’s reputation through the mud. Whilst many would argue that women’s professional golf is nothing without the men’s game, I would argue that the women’s game is forging its own path.
A great example of this came in yesterday’s announcement from the USGA announcing that Ally, a financial services company with the nation’s largest all-digital bank and a leading brand in women’s sports, would become the presenting partner for the U.S. Women’s Open and with that would elevate the 2024 championship prize fund to $12 million, the highest in women’s golf.
This news passed by with only a murmur, so strong is men’s grip on golf but I don’t think that will hold the women’s game back. If this week has proved anything, it’s that the women have a product that many brands, businesses and sports fans would do very well to pay more attention to, as they look for a way to invest sponsorship budgets and hard earned money.
I'm no mathematician but I can guarantee a better return on their investment.