The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, March 5, 2020

U.S. Women's Open losses — Five golf fan reactions — Must-click links in women's golf

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U.S. Women’s Open Financial Transparency

A few days ago, Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols wrote an article about the U.S. Women’s Open and how much money the event loses annually. At the PGA, this is something we probably won’t ever disclose as an organization for an event like the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. And I mention that because we’re probably in the majority that doesn’t publicly talk about gains and losses in golf. This is unique. Overall, I really respect this kind of transparency. And even beyond transparency, I personally think it’s a smart marketing play.

“In the end, this is really about our commitment,” said Craig Annis, the USGA’s chief brand officer. “Yes, these are numbers, but as I hope everyone has seen, we are committed to continue to grow the women’s game through inspiration of the U.S. Women’s Open, things like purse, things like broadcast hours, things like international qualifiers. All those things are worth the investment.” (via Golfweek)

If more people know that an event as big as the U.S. Women’s Open — not to mention a major championship on the LPGA — loses money, maybe there’s a greater chance that companies and mainstream broadcast media will step up? Maybe there’s a greater chance that someone who is a huge fan of the LPGA sees this and is bothered by it, so they step up, too? I couldn’t believe that they lose $10 million a year. But what really had me scratching my head was that the U.S. Open makes $70 million a year. That’s a staggering $80 million difference.

So, my question to myself when I saw this, was what needs to be done to close this gap? Is it possible to close the gap? Ten years from now, can the U.S. Women’s Open break even? Can it eventually make a profit? I think it’s definitely possible. But all of this begs another question of whether or not it’s time for a title sponsor. For one of our major championships at the PGA, the KPMG Women’s PGA, KPMG is beyond valuable for not just our bottom line, but also our long-term vision in building leaders, empowering women and inspiring greatness.

I see both sides. A title sponsor could detract from the overall U.S. Women’s Open brand and brand awareness. It means the USGA is in control of how the event is run from start to finish; they call the shots. I see that as a positive thing. But it’s also positive to have a big company or corporation that’s another voice in your choir beyond many other things. It makes the event a little bit more dynamic. For example, every year at the KPMG Women’s PGA, KPMG hosts a huge leadership summit where they bring in keynote speakers like Condoleezza Rice, Mia Ham and Lisa Leslie to name a few from the last couple years.

That’s really valuable for us because it adds to what’s going on outside the ropes, too. It brings in a different kind of audience where we could maybe gain a few golf fans that week if they stick around for the action. A few players from this Golfweek article chimed in on this front, on if a title sponsor would be the next move, and I thought they each offered up interesting perspectives.

“I think it would be weird to have a sponsor in the U.S. Women’s Open, but I bet it won’t be too long before they have one. How do you say no?” – Stacy Lewis

“As a player, and maybe I’m more short-sided, but if that’s what needs to happen to continue to grow the game and give opportunities for women to play on big stages, I think that’s ultimately the way it needs to go. That’s obviously the USGA’s decision and I’m just a player.” – Amy Olson

I particularly enjoyed this back-and-forth on the possibility of a title sponsor on Twitter as well. It’s true that the U.S. Open gives the USGA a big lift in terms of putting on other events and amateur programs throughout the country. But what about putting this title sponsor money only towards the purse? The U.S. Women’s Open already has the largest purse of LPGA events and majors at $5.5 million. It’s also the oldest and longest-running major of the five.

Regardless of where you stand on either the USGA being fully open about their annual losses and what you think should be done to decrease these losses, it’s a really interesting topic to dissect and will be even more interesting to see if the $10 million in losses now will ever get smaller. I’d be curious to know where all of this money is being spent. I can only speak from what happens at our LPGA major at the PGA—which is making it the best possible experience for the players. This means player gifts, high-quality player dining, rental cars, hotel accommodations and the list goes on. Anything to make the players’ lives easier and better that week, we do it.

Every golf organization runs events differently and they all have their own unique touch. I’d love to actually see line items from all the women’s golf majors to see where they are investing their money. But for now, we’ll just continue to root for all of their success and support any large investment in women’s golf no matter the bottom line!

This Week in Women’s Golf

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

New episode of Fairway Tales is live with Isabelle Shee, who started her own sock company—the world’s first planet friendly performance sock.

Michelle Wie’s broadcast career starting to take shape in 2020.

2020 Symetra Tour rookie on the challenges of professional golf in her own words.

While coronavirus continues to impact the 2020 season, LPGA players are finding other ways to stay sharp.

Morgan Pressel’s biggest accomplishment has come away from the course.

Coronavirus has some LPGA players worried about the entire LPGA season.

Pernilla Lindberg missed the cut at the New Zealand Open last week.

The golf industry is innovating to attract more women to the game.

TaylorMade Golf signs LPGA rookie Sierra Brooks to a deal.

Augusta National issues a statement on coronavirus ahead of the 2020 ANWA.

How an elite amateur enjoyed success but not comfort as a gay man in golf.

Excel Sports Management launches women’s golf division.

The field is SET for the second annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur!

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Golf Fan Reactions

One of my favorite things to do is bury myself in the Twitterverse to see how golf fans are reacting to news, so I did that again today. I should hopefully have an interview coming with two-time U.S. Women’s Open for next week’s issue, to get more of her insight on what these numbers mean for women’s golf and its future, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at how people are reacting on social media.

I. Having a young daughter I am glad to see the USGA’s commitment to women’s golf. But the reality is that women don’t support women’s golf. My bet is that 99% of women in America would rather have a nice hand bag than a nice handicap. (via @PetermanPrest)

II. It’s well past time to broadcast all 4 rounds on network TV, not ESPN2, not an auxiliary channel of NBC, but the main NBC/CBS stations so that anyone can watch, not just cable subscribers. (via @904Mae)

III. What do they spend it on? Qualifiers cost the participant money and the courses get little if any of that. So if 5000 people try to qualify at ~125 = $625k of revenue. They have 1 to 3 paid people at the event, maybe? Usually a handful of volunteers that get a hat? (via @BrianChipper)

IV. Need to do more back-to-back Opens. Use one to promote the other. Seems the next time a PGA pro talks up the USWO will be a first. Never saw Tiger show interest in LPGA even though his niece plays on tour. (via @sportsmedic22)

V. IMHO having a title sponsor detracts from the gravity of the event. It makes it seem less important. (via @cup2025)

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon  Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by The IX Team