LIV Golf: How new tour is widening the gender pay gap in the sport

LIV golf

Amid all the talk of the  LIV Golf Series’ ludicrously large prize pots, it’s worth considering how much money is on offer in the women’s game. 

This year’s Women’s PGA Championship tees off on Thursday in Bermuda and players will compete for a record $9 million (£7.3m) purse, which has doubled from last year. 

PGA of America president Jim Richerson stressed this increase in prize money was part of “a desire to elevate women’s golf”.

The total prize money for the five women’s majors now stands at $37.3m (£30.4m), which is up from $13.75m (11.2m) 10 years ago. 

How does the men’s PGA Tour compare? 

Women’s golfers are among the highest earners in elite women’s sport, along with tennis players. 

However, while the increase in prize money for women’s golf is a step in the right direction, there is still a huge disparity compared to the men’s PGA Tour. 

A study from the BBC last year found that golf’s gender pay gap is bigger than in the majority of sports. 

None of the major competitions offer equal pay and the difference in prize money actually regressed between 2014 and 2021. 

LPGA Tour

Indeed, the Women’s PGA Championship purse still pales in comparison to this year’s men’s PGA, which paid out a prize pot of $15m (£12.26m). 

A spokeswoman for the R&A told the BBC that: “We fully recognise that we have much more to do but we can’t do it alone.

“We all have to play our part in growing the commercial success of women’s golf at the highest level and that means everyone from golf bodies to sponsors and the media.”

How LIV Golf Series has increased the gap

The new LIV Golf tour is threatening to topple the PGA Tour and is offering huge sums of money to try and lure the biggest names in golf. 

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson was reportedly paid $200m (£163.5m) to sign up and former world number one Dustin Johnson pocketed a similar fee when he joined in June. 

LIV golf

The first seven events of the new tour will have $20m (£16.3m) purses –– the same amount as the PGA Tour’s most lucrative event, the Players Championship. 

The LIV tour has widened the gender pay gap between the men’s and women’s game and this seems more than likely to increase as the Saudi Arabian-backed tour picks up more steam. 

Yet, Saudi Arabia has also had a huge impact on women’s golf, with the Saudi oil company, Aramco, hosting its own series of tournaments, each with seven-figure prize funds. 

While the men’s PGA Tour has banned those that compete in the LIV series from taking part in their events, female golfers who play in the Aramco Team Series are not banned from the LPGA Tour as it stands.

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