By Andrew Wright published
Mel Reid has spoken out against the PGA Tour’s controversial Player Impact Program, insisting the $40 million prize pool would be better spent supporting golf at a grassroots level, rather than as a reward for those already among the highest earners.
The PIP, as it has become known, has been designed to identify the game’s top-10 needle-movers across a calendar year, with this year's MVP to be awarded a whopping $8m based on five categories unrelated to on-course performance.
These include things like: how often a player is searched on Google, how many mentions they get on social media, as well as how regularly they feature during a TV broadcast. With such criteria, it’s little wonder the scheme is viewed as nothing more than a glorified appearance fee to ensure the rich get richer.
This new-for-2021 initiative was unveiled in April and was immediately received by many as a response to the threat of big-money breakaway tours. And Reid, 34, made her thoughts on the matter abundantly clear when she spoke to Golf Monthly earlier in the year.
She said: “I just don’t understand why they need to do that if I’m completely honest. I mean, these boys get so much money anyway, so to drop in another $40 million… I feel like they could use that money a lot better in grassroots golf or developing the game or helping minority foundations trying to get kids into the game of golf.
“The money could be a lot better spent so we’ll see what happens. It’s typical, more money for the guys.”
Such disparity between the men’s and women’s game is nothing new, of course. But even in light of a near-$10m increase in the LPGA’s total prize pot for 2022, the financial chasm between two of golf’s premier circuits continues to grow.
On the PGA Tour in 2022, players will compete for $427m, up from $367m in 2021, with an additional $10m being pumped into the PIP fund. The FedEx Cup pool is also increasing from $60m to $75m, with the last man standing at East Lake to walk away $18m better off.
While not the full story it can, in part, be explained by the split in TV revenue. Speaking in a courtroom deposition in 2021, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed that more than 95 per cent of TV income goes to the men, with a new $700m deal penned in March 2020 coming into effect next year.
For reference, the deposition in question is from the case of Hank Haney v PGA Tour, Inc, with the former Tiger Woods coach attempting to sue after being forced to quit his SiriusXM Radio show following an insensitive comment made about Korean players in the run-up to the 2019 US Women's Open.
Somewhat ironically, it was in this setting that Monahan failed to name a single top-ranked female golfer when quizzed by Haney’s lawyer. Instead, he said he was unsure of the rankings and that “the person who is in a position to tell you the top players in the world would be [LPGA Tour opposite number at the time] Mike Whan". Certainly not his finest hour.
And while Reid insists such comments, or lack of, come as no surprise, she does have hope that those tasked with steering the PGA and LPGA Tours will find a better way to work together in the years to come.
“I know Jay and I think he’s a really good guy but his job is the PGA Tour not the LPGA” the Solheim Cup star added. “I do wish that LPGA and the PGA Tours would work a little bit more aligned, a little bit closer together, but no, that doesn’t surprise me at all to be honest.
“We did a panel earlier in the year and I said a couple things that he [Monahan] was kind of shocked about in the women’s game.
“His job is to run the PGA Tour, it’s not to run the LPGA but like I said, I wish - and I do think it’ll happen in the future - they were more aligned in what they’re trying to do. I think it would help both tours, not just the LPGA, but we’ll see where it goes.”
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform covering football, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1, but he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing. He now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a handicap of 1. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
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