Is It Time for Golf to Adopt Equal Pay for the U.S. Open?

Is It Time for Golf to Adopt Equal Pay for the U.S. Open?

This year, female golfers once again competed for an opportunity to win the U.S. Open title. The somewhat ironic venue for the event was the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Not a good start for gender equality.

The tournament was held by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the organization responsible for running the men's US Open.

Aside from differences in the tee-off, both genders played the same game at the same level.

Yet, the prize money between the men's and women's events was vastly different.

This year, the men's prize purse totalled $12 million dollars, with winner Brooks Koepka taking home $2.16 million for his first-place victory. The women's prize pool was only a fraction of this at $5 million. Last year's champion Brittany Lang won just over $800,000. This year's winner Sung Hyun Park won under a million.

The economic counter-argument about the pay gap is that male sports tend to generate more views, more ticket sales, and more revenue. This can sometimes help to explain why some sports are further ahead than others in the move towards pay equality.

In the U.S. Tennis Open, for example, women and men play on the same grounds in the same tournaments. Though they play within-gender matches, the competition itself includes both genders and the organization sells tickets and generates revenues through a single event. This framework lends itself well to pay equality.

In fact, all tennis majors, as well as other large tournaments like the Miami Open, have equal prize purses for both males and females. Equal pay advocates like Andy Murray, a favourite to win the U.S. Open with 5/1 odds on BetStars, have helped to push for this within the sport.
Golf is a little bit further behind in the proceedings...

A recent study conducted by the BBC analysed a number of sports based on prize money as part of Women's Sports Week 2017. They found that the gender equality pay gap has narrowed overall, with 83% of sports now offering equal prizes. The second widest prize purse gap, after only football, exists in golf.

In some ways, this is understandable when you consider that the PGA and LPGA tours operate as separate organisations with individual bankrolls and prize pools. But the U.S. Golf Open, in particular, is one event that could have started the ball rolling for golf.

Both the men's and women's competitions are run by the USGA, and so it would be more than possible to offer the equality that sports stars and fans alike are seeking.

It's not like the USGA wouldn't have the funds. They stand to make an estimated $1.1 billion in their deal with Fox Sports, an estimated $93 million a year over the course of the contract.

Even without touching the men's prize pool, they could have brought the womenís up to scratch by adding just $7 million, also giving the Women's Open the boost and publicity that it needs.
Giving credit where credit is due, the USGA has raised the prize purse for the women's competition every year.

But there is still a long way to go when it comes to gender pay equality, and for now, golf stands near the bottom of the pile. Is it time for equal pay in golf