SAN FRANCISCO – It was 18 months in the past that the USGA confronted a actuality test.
The LPGA Tour had simply wrapped up the 2019 season. The largest test in the girls’s recreation, $1.5 million, was awarded to the winner of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. For the first time, the USGA wasn’t alone in awarding $1 million to the winner of a championship.
The U.S Women’s Open had been the frontrunner in the girls’s recreation, pushing purses and the winner’s share to new heights. While the USGA can’t take direct credit score for elevated purses on the LPGA Tour, its continued funding in the girls’s recreation was definitely a catalyst for will increase at the LPGA finale, amongst different outstanding occasions.
That was definitely one thing for the USGA to rejoice, however it wished to do extra. It wished to proceed to be a frontrunner for the development of girls in the recreation. But how wouldn’t it do this? That was the problem posed to the USGA employees by the govt committee, a 12 months and a half in the past.
“We have the greatest championship in the women’s game, but if we sit back and rest upon where we are now, we might not be and we may not have a role we play to continue on,” Craig Annis, the chief model officer of the USGA, recalled from that pivotal assembly. “So, what are all of you going to do to ensure we continue to grow this?”
Part of that reply might lie with a sponsorship. The U.S. Women’s Open stays the solely girls’s main championship that does not have a title sponsor.
Last week, Annis denied stories that the USGA would entertain the thought of a title sponsor, however didn’t rule out the chance of a presenting one. A company funding would make a serious dent in bridging the hole between the $12.5 million purse that the males will compete for in the U.S. Open versus the $5.5 million that the girls compete for, which nonetheless stays the largest in the girls’s recreation.
“There is no plan for a title sponsor,” stated Navin Singh, chief business officer of the USGA. “We’re having discussions around what corporate support could look like and if and when that time comes, and it makes sense, we’ll proceed down that route and make sure it elevates the championship positions in the right way.”
Equal prize cash would go a good distance in the USGA’s ongoing efforts to promote equity in the recreation. It has already made great strides when it comes to elevating the venues on which the girls compete.
For instance, The Olympic Club, which can host its first girls’s main championship starting Thursday, together with Pebble Beach Golf Links, which can host the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time in 2023. The two venues have mixed to host 11 U.S. Opens, and now, the greatest girls in golf can have an opportunity to gauge their recreation on the similar programs.
In 2014, the USGA experimented by staging each championships in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst Golf Resort and it was an amazing success with gamers and followers alike. The experiment was an instance of equity at its most interesting – the greatest gamers in the world, each males and girls, competing on the very same course with girls hitting the similar golf equipment into greens as their male counterparts. Annis stated not a day goes by at the USGA that somebody doesn’t carry up 2014.
“I think you’ll see more iconic sites host both the men’s and women’s,” John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, championships said. “I think that’s a real goal.”
In a growing effort to bridge equality, the USGA is beginning to transition away from using the word women’s in identifying the championship. It’s a move that follows other sporting events that have removed the words “women” or “girls’s” from their event titles.
At The Olympic Club, some branding for the championship omits “girls’s” all together, simply referring to the major as the U.S. Open. In other logos, the word is in a small text next to a larger text spelling out “U.S. Open.” The USGA is effectively conscious that champions like Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer merely refer to having gained the U.S. Open, not the Women’s Open and that’s one thing it is prepared to undertake.
“To them, it is their U.S. Open,” stated Beth Major, the senior director of communications for the USGA. “You’ll probably going forward see (the wording) both ways, but that has been a conscious decision in calling it what the players call it.”
It was about 18 months in the past that the USGA took a tough take a look at what it was doing to proceed to advocate for the girls’s recreation. It doubled-down, laying out a strategic plan and dedication to girls in any respect ranges of the recreation. Thursday, it’ll look to ship on that dedication because it formally brings the U.S. Women’s Open to The Olympic Club for the first time.