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Mike Whan's Take on Purse Equality for LPGA/PGA Tours


LPGA Tour Purse Equity  

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  1. 1. Complete this sentence: We will see five or more LPGA events with purses as large as equivalent PGA Tour events within the next…

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Let's try this here.

Mike Whan was recently on the NLU podcast, and was on earlier this year (errr, last year now), and he talked about his retirement and where he sees the LPGA Tour going after he's gone.

I realize most here will be missing the context unless you go listen to it, but one of the topics was that Mike Whan would love for the LPGA Tour purses to equal those on the PGA Tour. He seems to think — and I fully admit it's just how it seems to me, and maybe he's more pessimistic about his projections than it seems to me — that the LPGA Tour is closer to getting purse equity in several events relatively soon.

I don't get his idea that women should get or could get the same purse — it just doesn’t seem to track economically for me. He compared women’s golf to women’s tennis, but women’s tennis only really does well three or four times a year (and those are the only events in which their purses are the same - their Grand Slam events). If the LPGA got the same ratings as the men’s events, then you could easily make a case for the same size purse. But they don’t.

The women’s semi-equivalent of the Masters… peaked at a 0.29 and barely edged out the PGA Tour event that weekend, the Safeway.

image.png

The average here?

  • PGA Tour: 0.26
  • The LPGA Tour: 0.21

Both were on Golf Channel, so no real advantage for the men there. And the LPGA event was their "Masters" of a sort: a major on the same course every year.

I have a daughter. I’d love to see her gain equal rights across the board, but this isn’t about “rights” at all, it’s about economics and what people want to watch (and pay for). You can’t make people watch, and sponsors aren’t going to be able to put up the purse to match when they would be better off, in most cases, to spend the money where they’ll get the greatest return.

What am I missing here? Will we see more than five LPGA Tour events with purses the size of equivalent PGA Tour events within the next five years? 10? 20?

FWIW:
U.S. Open: $12.5M
U.S. Women's Open: $5.5M

I watch a fair amount of LPGA Tour golf. But almost none of my girl golfers do. I hope/suspect that will change, as something like 100,000 girls in the U.S. are involved with LPGA/USGA Girls Golf.

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  • iacas changed the title to Mike Whan's Take on Purse Equality for LPGA/PGA Tours
  • iacas changed the title to Mike Whan's Take on Purse Equality for Lpga/PGA Tours
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I’m just going to echo the others at this point. The ratings aren’t there, the interest isn’t there, therefore the money isn’t there. The only way I see LPGA Tour events having the same purse has PGA

I'm not sure if comparing tennis purses to golf for the majors is a one to one equivalence, in tennis, both men and women play the same event at the same time at the majors, the Australian, French, Wi

So true, unfortunately. It’s not fair to label someone as sexist just because they find a sport more entertaining based on talent. I find women’s gymnastics in the olympics way more entertaining than

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13 minutes ago, iacas said:

Let's try this here.

Mike Whan was recently on the NLU podcast, and was on earlier this year (errr, last year now), and he talked about his retirement and where he sees the LPGA Tour going after he's gone.

I realize most here will be missing the context unless you go listen to it, but one of the topics was that Mike Whan would love for the LPGA Tour purses to equal those on the PGA Tour. He seems to think — and I fully admit it's just how it seems to me, and maybe he's more pessimistic about his projections than it seems to me — that the LPGA Tour is closer to getting purse equity in several events relatively soon.

I don't get his idea that women should get or could get the same purse — it just doesn’t seem to track economically for me. He compared women’s golf to women’s tennis, but women’s tennis only really does well three or four times a year (and those are the only events in which their purses are the same - their Grand Slam events). If the LPGA got the same ratings as the men’s events, then you could easily make a case for the same size purse. But they don’t.

The women’s semi-equivalent of the Masters… peaked at a 0.29 and barely edged out the PGA Tour event that weekend, the Safeway.

image.png

The average here?

  • PGA Tour: 0.26
  • The LPGA Tour: 0.21

Both were on Golf Channel, so no real advantage for the men there. And the LPGA event was their "Masters" of a sort: a major on the same course every year.

I have a daughter. I’d love to see her gain equal rights across the board, but this isn’t about “rights” at all, it’s about economics and what people want to watch (and pay for). You can’t make people watch, and sponsors aren’t going to be able to put up the purse to match when they would be better off, in most cases, to spend the money where they’ll get the greatest return.

What am I missing here? Will we see more than five LPGA Tour events with purses the size of equivalent PGA Tour events within the next five years? 10? 20?

FWIW:
U.S. Open: $12.5M
U.S. Women's Open: $5.5M

I watch a fair amount of LPGA Tour golf. But almost none of my girl golfers do. I hope/suspect that will change, as something like 100,000 girls in the U.S. are involved with LPGA/USGA Girls Golf.

I agree. The purse is wholly dependent on the sponsorship and ad revenue. Without ratings, they cannot generate revenue. It’s partly due to women not watching golf. I have several woman friends who are avid golfers and they do not watch women’s golf. 

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5 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

I agree. The purse is wholly dependent on the sponsorship and ad revenue. Without ratings, they cannot generate revenue. It’s partly due to women not watching golf. I have several woman friends who are avid golfers and they do not watch women’s golf. 

Ding!

22 minutes ago, iacas said:

Let's try this here.

Mike Whan was recently on the NLU podcast, and was on earlier this year (errr, last year now), and he talked about his retirement and where he sees the LPGA Tour going after he's gone.

I realize most here will be missing the context unless you go listen to it, but one of the topics was that Mike Whan would love for the LPGA Tour purses to equal those on the PGA Tour. He seems to think — and I fully admit it's just how it seems to me, and maybe he's more pessimistic about his projections than it seems to me — that the LPGA Tour is closer to getting purse equity in several events relatively soon.

I don't get his idea that women should get or could get the same purse — it just doesn’t seem to track economically for me. He compared women’s golf to women’s tennis, but women’s tennis only really does well three or four times a year (and those are the only events in which their purses are the same - their Grand Slam events). If the LPGA got the same ratings as the men’s events, then you could easily make a case for the same size purse. But they don’t.

The women’s semi-equivalent of the Masters… peaked at a 0.29 and barely edged out the PGA Tour event that weekend, the Safeway.

image.png

The average here?

  • PGA Tour: 0.26
  • The LPGA Tour: 0.21

Both were on Golf Channel, so no real advantage for the men there. And the LPGA event was their "Masters" of a sort: a major on the same course every year.

I have a daughter. I’d love to see her gain equal rights across the board, but this isn’t about “rights” at all, it’s about economics and what people want to watch (and pay for). You can’t make people watch, and sponsors aren’t going to be able to put up the purse to match when they would be better off, in most cases, to spend the money where they’ll get the greatest return.

What am I missing here? Will we see more than five LPGA Tour events with purses the size of equivalent PGA Tour events within the next five years? 10? 20?

FWIW:
U.S. Open: $12.5M
U.S. Women's Open: $5.5M

I watch a fair amount of LPGA Tour golf. But almost none of my girl golfers do. I hope/suspect that will change, as something like 100,000 girls in the U.S. are involved with LPGA/USGA Girls Golf.

I'd like to see the purses for Women's Golf equal the purses for men's golf. If that means that the ratings for women's golf equal the ratings for men's golf. 

Which is something I'd like to see. I enjoy watching the women and I enjoy watching the men. I enjoy college golf. I enjoy the Euros. I watch all of it. But, I realize that I'm the exception. I know this because for among other reasons when I'm at the range chit chatting with the folks there. I can talk PGA golf and everyone knows what I'm talking about. If I talk women's golf people still think Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie are relevant players. 

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20 minutes ago, iacas said:

Mike Whan would love for the LPGA Tour purses to equal those on the PGA Tour. He seems to think ..... that the LPGA Tour is closer to getting purse equity in several events relatively soon.

For better or worse, this is entertainment, like all sports.  What the players "deserve" is some fair percentage of the revenue from all sources, which I imagine is primarily from TV rights, tournament sponsorships, and, to a smaller extent, physical attendance.  TV rights are directly related to what the broadcaster can get for the advertising, which relates to viewership.  Until the viewership for the LPGA gets close to that of the PGA, the purses for the players won't be close.  I have a hard time believing this will happen in my lifetime.

This isn't to say that the players work less hard at their games, that they're not as competitive, or that women's golf isn't exciting to watch, only that the money coming in won't be enough to allow the purses to increase to get close to the men's.

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On the original place, people were posting and saying that it was (almost?) entirely due to the network TV coverage the men get, and so I asked this:

If men’s and women’s golf switched places on TV for a year would the LPGA get the same ratings as the men the previous year?

Several people voted yes. I don't think it'd be anywhere near as close.

The other site also had people arguing that it was strictly a gender issue - that these players are doing the same exact "job."

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I really want to be wrong on this but I voted 25+ years.  I enjoy watching the LPGA and feel bad for them when I see the small crowds at the events.  As Iacas and others said it all comes down to economics and without the crowds and ratings the purses will remain smaller.

I will attend LPGA events and enjoy the less crowded course but that is only good for me, it is not good for the size of the purse or the golfers.

6 minutes ago, iacas said:

On the original place, people were posting and saying that it was (almost?) entirely due to the network TV coverage the men get, and so I asked this:

If men’s and women’s golf switched places on TV for a year would the LPGA get the same ratings as the men the previous year?

Several people voted yes. I don't think it'd be anywhere near as close.

The other site also had people arguing that it was strictly a gender issue - that these players are doing the same exact "job."

I do not think changing the time of the broadcast would help.  Fans will make time to watch if it is important to them.  I will arrange my schedule on a weekend to watch a tournament fi that is important to me, just like I schedule to be able to watch my Buckeyes play football.  The problem is there are just not enough fans of the LPGA.

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I’m just going to echo the others at this point. The ratings aren’t there, the interest isn’t there, therefore the money isn’t there. The only way I see LPGA Tour events having the same purse has PGA Tour in the near future is if the PGA Tour subsidized them.

19 minutes ago, iacas said:

The other site also had people arguing that it was strictly a gender issue - that these players are doing the same exact "job."

They’re doing the same “job” but they’re producing different products. The difference in skill matters and that’s partly due to the physical differences between men and women.

I’d pay $200 to watch an NHL team play but not a HS one, yet they play the same game.

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I'm not sure if comparing tennis purses to golf for the majors is a one to one equivalence, in tennis, both men and women play the same event at the same time at the majors, the Australian, French, Wimbledon and USO. You can't really differentiate who is bringing in the ticket sales. The women's finals and semi-finals are sandwiched between the men's semis and finals, so maybe they're getting some coattails ratings or maybe the men are getting coattail ratings from the women, who knows, it's hard to tell, I think most people watch the men's and women's finals because it's more people are watching the event. So I can see why the prize money for women's tennis is the same as the men's, but in golf, it's totally different.

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6 minutes ago, billchao said:

They’re doing the same “job” but they’re producing different products. The difference in skill matters and that’s partly due to the physical differences between men and women.

I’d pay $200 to watch an NHL team play but not a HS one, yet they play the same game.

Right. I gave these examples elsewhere:

  • Korn Ferry Tour players vs. PGA Tour players.
  • Public defenders vs. high-profile power attorneys.
  • No-name actors vs. Tom Cruise or whoever the hot-shot actors are these days.

This isn't a female accountant and a male accountant literally doing the same type of work and producing the same results getting paid differently solely because one is a woman.

3 minutes ago, nevets88 said:

I'm not sure if comparing tennis purses to golf for the majors is a one to one equivalence, in tennis, both men and women play the same event at the same time at the majors, the Australian, French, Wimbledon and USO. You can't really differentiate who is bringing in the ticket sales. The women's finals and semi-finals are sandwiched between the men's semis and finals, so maybe they're getting some coattails ratings or maybe the men are getting coattail ratings from the women, who knows, it's hard to tell, I think most people watch the men's and women's finals because it's more people are watching the event.

Yeah, I agree I don't think women's tennis is the perfect equivalent, but it may be the best comparison we've got.

But the fact that the events are held at the same place at the same time is something golf likely won't be able to match. Not without smaller fields and other things.

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8 minutes ago, nevets88 said:

I'm not sure if comparing tennis purses to golf for the majors is a one to one equivalence, in tennis, both men and women play the same event at the same time at the majors, the Australian, French, Wimbledon and USO. You can't really differentiate who is bringing in the ticket sales. The women's finals and semi-finals are sandwiched between the men's semis and finals, so maybe they're getting some coattails ratings or maybe the men are getting coattail ratings from the women, who knows, it's hard to tell, I think most people watch the men's and women's finals because it's more people are watching the event. So I can see why the prize money for women's tennis is the same as the men's, but in golf, it's totally different.

I heard that at one time women's tennis TV ratings were usually higher than men's in the US. But the opposite was true globally. Not sure if that's still true, but I think people called it the Williams factor. It was similar to (maybe not the same level as) the Tiger factor affecting TV ratings in golf.

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1 hour ago, ChetlovesMer said:

I heard that at one time women's tennis TV ratings were usually higher than men's in the US. But the opposite was true globally. Not sure if that's still true, but I think people called it the Williams factor. It was similar to (maybe not the same level as) the Tiger factor affecting TV ratings in golf.

table-355-1.png

This statistic provides information on the number of TV viewers and ratings of the U.S.

 

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6 hours ago, iacas said:

On the original place, people were posting and saying that it was (almost?) entirely due to the network TV coverage the men get, and so I asked this:

If men’s and women’s golf switched places on TV for a year would the LPGA get the same ratings as the men the previous year?

I would vote no. Maybe they would go up a bit more. How were Women's ratings when Sorenstam was crushing it on the LPGA tour. I felt like it was more popular back then, especially on sporting news. I never really paid attention, but when they do sportscaster recaps, does the LPGA get much attention? 

Also, do the women's events get nearly the buildup as the men's golf events? The Masters gets a huge buildup. I hardly hear anything about LPGA majors. Maybe its a marketing thing as well. People can say if only they had better ratings. What would the ratings be like if all other things were equal? Advertisement, sports news coverage, etc.. I still think they would not be as high as the PGA events, but probably higher than people think they would be. 

5 hours ago, iacas said:

This isn't a female accountant and a male accountant literally doing the same type of work and producing the same results getting paid differently solely because one is a woman

Exactly. Yet it is really easy for people to reduce things down to simple terms of..

Both are Golfers. One is being paid more than the other. That is unfair. 

5 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

I heard that at one time women's tennis TV ratings were usually higher than men's in the US. But the opposite was true globally. Not sure if that's still true, but I think people called it the Williams factor. It was similar to (maybe not the same level as) the Tiger factor affecting TV ratings in golf.

I can understand that when you have the William's sisters dominating Tennis versus having no real dominant male US tennis player. 

 

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In World Cup Soccer, we have a different story. That is why the US Women started the lawsuit. The US Men are well below average and the women are consistently the best in the world. The overall world viewership for the men is much higher, but here not so much.

106009560-1562688188768meganrapinoeofthe

According to a statement from Fox Sports, citing data from Nielsen, approximately 14.3 million U.S. viewers tuned in to the final match on television, compared to 11.4 million for the 2018...

The LPGA doesn’t have that viewership, so it hard to argue for higher purses. 

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Getting enough eyeballs on women's golf to make purse equity possible is either going to require something more compelling than what the sport currently has to offer or the men's game is going to have to sink low enough to make it happen.

The only thing that I can think of that would help would be a transcendent-type star ala Tiger Woods. Of course, those don't grow on trees. Simply being dominant isn't really enough or Sorenstam would have brought more viewers to the table. It's not as if the LPGA can simply manufacture it.

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

For better or worse, this is entertainment, like all sports.  What the players "deserve" is some fair percentage of the revenue from all sources, which I imagine is primarily from TV rights, tournament sponsorships, and, to a smaller extent, physical attendance.  TV rights are directly related to what the broadcaster can get for the advertising, which relates to viewership.  Until the viewership for the LPGA gets close to that of the PGA, the purses for the players won't be close.  I have a hard time believing this will happen in my lifetime.

This isn't to say that the players work less hard at their games, that they're not as competitive, or that women's golf isn't exciting to watch, only that the money coming in won't be enough to allow the purses to increase to get close to the men's.

100% agree

17 hours ago, boogielicious said:

I agree. The purse is wholly dependent on the sponsorship and ad revenue. Without ratings, they cannot generate revenue. It’s partly due to women not watching golf. I have several woman friends who are avid golfers and they do not watch women’s golf. 

I read somewhere that women comprise a much larger % of consumer purchases (those here in marketing please set me straight if I'm wrong), if the women out there were bigger consumers of the LPGA in its various facets, I think they could/would match the men...because I do agree it's simple business.

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This is a tough one, just because its so hard to predict what is going to happen 20 years from now.

First, its great to see everyone understanding here that purse size is based on sponsorship revenue.  Purses won't be equal until sponsors are able to raise the same amount of revenue for an LPGA event as a PGA event.  And it's not debatable.  "Doing the same job" is not an argument here as many of you have already stated in a clear and respectful manner.

I did vote for in 20 years.  But its just a maybe in 20 years.  It depends on what happens between now and then.  If a truly transcendent talent and marketing goldmine comes along on the women's tour, that would be a great start.  And if there is further collaboration between the PGA tour and LPGA tour like joint events to create more exposure to the LPGA athletes for the golf viewing population, I could see a reasonable path to get close in 20 years.  That's not a prediction, just a scenario I could see happen.

 

17 hours ago, billchao said:

They’re doing the same “job” but they’re producing different products. The difference in skill matters and that’s partly due to the physical differences between men and women.

I’d pay $200 to watch an NHL team play but not a HS one, yet they play the same game.

I agree with this to an extent, but just to play devil's advocate... men's college athletics (basketball and football) is a clearly inferior game to the professional versions, but yet, at the highest levels of NCAA competition, the revenues rival the professional sports.  The NCAA is able to create a compelling product despite much less talented players.  Now the leap to apply this to the LPGA is the tricky part.  I don't have those answers.  But it is possible to create a compelling, yet competitively inferior game.

 

1 hour ago, woodzie264 said:

I read somewhere that women comprise a much larger % of consumer purchases (those here in marketing please set me straight if I'm wrong), if the women out there were bigger consumers of the LPGA in its various facets, I think they could/would match the men...because I do agree it's simple business.

I do not believe this is as easy a solution as just getting more women to watch golf, and therefore the LPGA viewership will rival the PGA.  Women are valuable consumers, you are correct.  But everyone is trying to market them.  If more women watch golf, the PGA is going to do what they can to have them watch the men's game too.  Yes, naturally, if more women watch golf, a higher percentage of them might be naturally drawn to the women's game, but a lot of them will watch the men's game too.  The solution isn't the demographics of the viewers.  Its making the LPGA product as compelling as possible.

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17 minutes ago, bweiss711 said:

I do not believe this is as easy a solution as just getting more women to watch golf, and therefore the LPGA viewership will rival the PGA.  Women are valuable consumers, you are correct.  But everyone is trying to market them.  If more women watch golf, the PGA is going to do what they can to have them watch the men's game too.  Yes, naturally, if more women watch golf, a higher percentage of them might be naturally drawn to the women's game, but a lot of them will watch the men's game too.  The solution isn't the demographics of the viewers.  

I didn't mean to suggest that simply changing the demographic of who is watching will fix the issue, but rather increasing the volume of total viewers/interested parties via increasing the percentage that comes from a particular demographic that is glaringly absent from the audience would be hugely helpful towards that end.  

 

21 minutes ago, bweiss711 said:

It's making the LPGA product as compelling as possible.

100% agreed

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1 hour ago, bweiss711 said:

I agree with this to an extent, but just to play devil's advocate... men's college athletics (basketball and football) is a clearly inferior game to the professional versions, but yet, at the highest levels of NCAA competition, the revenues rival the professional sports.  The NCAA is able to create a compelling product despite much less talented players.  Now the leap to apply this to the LPGA is the tricky part.  I don't have those answers.  But it is possible to create a compelling, yet competitively inferior game.

The NCAA has a TON more people involved.

The NBA has a limit of 390 players who can be active to play, and only 450 rostered players. (13 and 15 per team, 30 teams). March Madness alone will see an integer.decimal multiple of that number of players.

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