On Sunday, Park Sung-hyun won the U.S. Women’s Open and took home $US900,000, the biggest pay day of the five majors in women’s golf. The weekend, the winner of the men’s Open Championship will take home $US1.85 million, the smallest pay day for a winner at one of the four men’s major championships.
The difference is purse sizes at the majors is driven by the popularity of the two sports in terms of television ratings and the revenue earned through advertising sponsors and TV deals. But it is also easy to wonder if the gap could be closed if the organisers could ever figure out a way to have the two groups play their majors in the same locations at the same time, as they do in tennis.
Since 2007, women have received an equal share of the prize money at the four tennis grand slam events where networks pay for the rights to broadcast entire tournaments, men and women. The same cannot be said for women playing in golf’s majors and it is not even close.
While it may be logistically impossible, if organisers could ever find a way to get the women and men to play side-by-side at the same majors, the popularity of the women’s game would likely soar which in turn would increase the popularity of the sport in general and the majors overall. Not only would prize money for the women increase at those tournaments, but likely for the men as well as the value of broadcast rights would almost certainly go up more than the sum of the parts.