By Zac Cornell
The U.S. Women’s Open Golf Tournament has announced that this year’s tournament will award almost double the prize money from last year’s $5.5 million purse. This major upgrade comes as a result of the USGA signing ProMedica, as a presenting sponsor. The not-for-profit integrated health organization will not only raise the U.S. Women’s Open prize to $10 million this year, but continue to increase the purse over the next five years to ultimately reach $12 million. ProMedica will also be a marketing partner of the USGA, with its ProMedica Impact Fund becoming the official charity of the Women’s Open. With programs aimed toward boosting individual and community health, the fund is committed to raising more than $1 billion over eight years.
Former LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan, who is now CEO of the USGA, was behind this significant improvement for women’s golfers. He announced, “The USGA prides itself on conducting championships that not only provide an incredible stage for the athletes but also give younger players something to dream about.” Whan continued, “For more than 75 years, the U.S. Women’s Open has been the one that every little girl, in every country around the world, has dreamed of winning.”
In addition to raising the financial prize, the U.S. Women’s Open will also raise the stature of host courses. After the previously planned tournaments this June 2-5 at Pine Needles Lodge in North Carolina, and next year at Pebble Beach in California, it will be hosted at Riviera and Merion, both of which hosted the men’s U.S. Open in previous years.
Whan also noted the significance of raising the bar for the location of the tournament. “Imagine having a young girl who dreams of pursuing a career in the game of golf, and you’re able to say to that young girl that your dream should now include names like Erin Hills, Inverness, Oakmont, Merion, Interlachen,” Whan said. “That’s game-changing, the places we play.”Other women’s golf tournaments are also increasing their prizes, with the AIG Women’s British Open’s 2022 championship purse rising $1 million from 2021’s $5.8 million prize. The increasing prizes are a welcome development after a BBC study in March 2021 found that the gender pay gap in golf was one of the worst in all sports. Even more discouraging, the study found that the pay gap was getting worse over time, from a disparity of $900,000 in 2014 to $1.25million in 2021.