FedEx Cup Cash Highlights Golf's Huge Gender Pay Gap

The Tour Championship has done nothing but highlight one of the biggest issues in our game right now.

Golf's Gender Pay Gap
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The simultaneous running of the Tour Championship and the Solheim Cup has put the spotlight on the gender pay gap in golf more than ever before.

FedEx Cup Cash Highlights Golf's Huge Gender Pay Gap

Last night saw Patrick Cantlay win the Tour Championship and pocket $15 million in the process.

Meanwhile, at almost exactly the same time in Toledo, Ohio, Mel Reid sunk a birdie putt to halve one of the greatest matches in recent Solheim Cup history and leave the overall match poised at 9-7 to Team Europe.

Reid’s putt wasn’t worth a penny, but the reactions, positive and negative, of all at Inverness Club suggested it was worth more than any cheque.

Scheduling issues aside, flicking between these two events brought to light an issue that is becoming exponentially more uncomfortable within the game, that of the gender pay gap.

There were two narratives at play last night - one of prize money and one of passion for the game and a pride in representing a team.

FedEx Cup Cash Highlights Golf's Huge Gender Pay Gap

Commentators over in Atlanta kept mentioning how much a putt could cost a player, graphics kept reminding us what the top five players would be expecting to take home and, quite frankly, it wasn’t that interesting.

Meanwhile in Ohio, watching an event with no prize money and with sponsorships generally being dialled down was a refreshing change from what was going on in Atlanta.

Frighteningly, the $15 million prize Cantlay won for one event is more money than all but four women on the LPGA Tour have won in their entire career.

In one event yesterday, Patrick Cantlay won more than Suzann Petersen in her entire 22-win career.

This isn’t a new issue in the game by any means, and the purse of $5.8 million at the AIG Women’s Open last month was a step in the right direction, but watching these two events side by side made the vast amounts of money in the men’s game seem more tasteless and irrelevant than ever before.

If one female golfer won all five Majors on the women’s circuit in one season - a total of $3.81 million - they would still earn less money than winless Corey Conners did on the PGA Tour this year.

FedEx Cup Cash Highlights Golf's Huge Gender Pay Gap

Whilst TV viewing figures from last night’s events haven’t been released yet, there was certainly a feeling that more of us were tuned in to the absorbing afternoon session of the Solheim Cup, rather than waiting to see which of very-rich-man Patrick Cantlay or equally-rich-man Jon Rahm would pocket the latest absurd cheque to be presented in the men’s game.

Quite simply, when put up against the purest form of match play, the Tour Championship, and the purses in the men’s game overall, have started to feel quite vulgar.

It begs the question, who, if anyone, cares about the prize fund?

Firstly, it’s hard to imagine the players actually care about it.

One look at Patrick Cantlay’s face last night suggested the $15 million cheque wasn't that big of a deal for man who has already won $22.3 million on Tour.

Would he trade that all in for a Major or a Ryder Cup win this year? Of course he would.

And for the fans, do we care? Safe to say the scenes on the 18th green at East Lake were hardly jubilant last night. Compare that to the fans enjoying the Solheim Cup in Toledo and the answer is clear.

The boring and ineffective format of the Tour Championship aside, yesterday saw 24 women provide some of the most entertaining golf of the year while, on the other side, an uncharismatic man pocketed an obscene amount of money in one of the most placid events of the year.

Cantlay won more money than any of the ladies representing Team Europe and Team USA can expect to see in their wildest career dreams and, as both of these events played out simultaneously, it offered us one of the starkest realisations in recent times of the inequality that still exists in our game.

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. 

Dan is currently playing: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°, Ping G425 Max 21°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Cobra King Tec Utility, Ping i230 (5-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x