Is Women's Golf Paying The Price Of A Jam-Packed Tournament Schedule?

Yet again women's golf is playing second fiddle when the first Major of the year, The Chevron Championship, has to compete against a signature PGA Tour event

Allison Corpuz at the 2023 Chevron Championship
Allison Corpuz tees off at the 2023 Chevron Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The lead-up to the Masters dominated headlines for weeks, culminating in four exciting days of tournament action. From clinching his second Masters title, Tiger Woods posting his worst tournament score ever, and Ludvig Aberg making an impressive debut, the stories continue to keep unfolding. So, you could be forgiven for not realising that the Chevron Championship at The Club at Carlton Woods, Texas, the first women's Major of the year, is happening this week.

While I, like many others, adore the Masters, it's disheartening that this women’s Major is unlikely to receive the same level of coverage in what could potentially be a monumental week for women's golf.

World No. 1 Nelly Korda isn't just preparing to secure her second Major title; she's also aiming to join the elite ranks of only two other women who have won five consecutive LPGA titles: Nancy Lopez in 1978 and Annika Sorenstam over the 2004/2005 season.


Nelly Korda will be aiming for a 5th consecutive title at The Chevron Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The scheduling for this week’s Chevron Championship is significant. Not only does it follow the Masters, but it also coincides with one of the PGA Tour’s signature events, the RBC Heritage in South Carolina, where eight contenders of the Masters will be competing. Consequently, broadcast and media schedules will be impacted, with Chevron drawing the short straw.

I understand that the PGA Tour is massive, and men’s golf will inevitably attract a larger audience than women’s, so broadcasters will naturally prioritise this audience. What I do advocate if at all possible is for the PGA Tour and broadcasters to at least consider the LPGA’s tournament schedule, as it seems to be currently overlooked.

Both tours have a packed schedule, yet while the LPGA sensibly avoids scheduling any of its tournaments at the same time as the men’s ‘big’ events, It would be great if the PGA Tour could demonstrate the same consideration. When Golf Monthly spoke to Hall of Famer and three-time American Solheim Cup Captain Juli Inkster on the subject recently, she said:

“I don’t think the PGA care less where they add stuff, they don’t look at our schedule. They don’t call the LPGA and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna schedule this, is it OK?’ 

In 2019, the LPGA Tour took the brunt of schedule changes when the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) was held during the traditional dates of the Chevron Championship, formerly known as the ANA. Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley assured that the ANWA wouldn't harm the ANA, especially as it concluded on Saturday to avoid clashing with the LPGA Major's final round on Sunday.

Lilia Vu won the 2023 Chevron Championship

The 2023 Chevron Championship winner Lilia Vu

(Image credit: Getty Images)

However, let's be honest, any tournament played over the famous Augusta National course will draw a substantial audience, and it did affect the ANA. During the inaugural ANWA, the ratings for the showdown between Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi were the highest for a women’s golf event since 2016. Subsequently, although not immediately, in 2023, the Chevron's date was pushed back to prevent further conflicts.

No doubt, professional women’s golf is gaining popularity, and prize purses and viewership is growing. Records were set in July 2023 when more than one million viewers tuned in for the third and final rounds of the US Women’s Open, plus the final round of the Dana Open. This brought the highest average monthly viewership ever for the LPGA Tour at more than 600,000. 

Similarly, Sky Sports recorded an all-time channel record of 734,000 fans watching the final day’s play of the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Spain. Over the three-day tournament, the highest average of 438K was 30% up on the previous edition in Ohio in 2021.

This week in Texas promises an abundance of talent and remarkable stories. It's unfortunate that we may not witness them all across all media channels, but we can hope that with women’s golf on the right trajectory, future demand will prompt tours and broadcasters to reconsider for a more equitable representation. A dedicated women’s golf channel - now that's a good idea!

Alison Root

Alison Root has over 25 years experience working in media and events, predominantly dedicated to golf, in particular the women’s game. Until 2020, for over a decade Alison edited Women & Golf magazine and website, and is now the full-time Women's Editor for Golf Monthly. Alison is a respected and leading voice in the women's game, overseeing content that communicates to active golfers from grassroots through to the professional scene, and developing collaborative relationships to widen Golf Monthly's female audience across all platforms to elevate women's golf to a new level. She is a 16-handicap golfer (should be better) and despite having had the fantastic opportunity to play some of the best golf courses around the world, Kingsbarns in Scotland is her favourite.