Revealed: Golf's Gender Pay Gap One Of The Biggest In Sport

A new BBC study shows worrying findings around golf's gender pay gap, especially compared to other sports

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

A new BBC study shows worrying findings around golf's gender pay gap, especially compared to other sports

Revealed: Golf's Gender Pay Gap One Of The Biggest In Sport

The BBC's third Prize money in sport study has highlighted golf as one of the three sports lagging behind in terms of the gender pay gap.

The study looked into 48 sports, with golf, football and basketball being the only three where at least one major competition did not have equal prize money.

In all three of golf's traditional mixed Majors (Open, US Open and PGA Championship), men's first place prizes are all more than $1m higher than women's.

The report found that female golfers are among the highest earners in elite sport but are still well behind their male counterparts, specifically in terms of prize money won at Majors.

The BBC highlighted the differences in prize money between the 2021 US Open, which offers $2.25m for the men's winner and $1m for the women's champion.

It also found that the gap has actually increased, having gone from $900,000 in 2014 to $1.25m in 2021.

Shane Lowry won £1.9m for winning the Claret Jug in 2019 at Royal Portrush, whilst Sophia Popov won around £484,000 for her Women's Open triumph last year - almost £1.5m less than her male counterpart.

It's the same story in the PGA Championship too, which had a difference of $1.175m in its first place cheques last year.

A spokeswoman for the R&A told the BBC that the governing body's "stated aim" is to close the gender pay gap.

"We have been able to make substantial progress in that regard and are working hard to build the commercial effectiveness of the championship to increase revenues and support further investment in future," the spokeswoman said.

"We fully recognise that we have much more to do but we can't do it alone.

"We all have to play our part in growing the commercial success of women's golf at the highest level and that means everyone from golf bodies to sponsors and the media."

Craig Annis, the USGA's chief brand officer, told the BBC that the organisation is "committed to gender equality in golf".

"The US Women's Open is the leader in purse in all of women's golf, which requires disproportional investments into the championship compared to revenue generated," he said.

"We will continue to make investments that ensure the US Women's Open remains the premier event in women's golf through its purse, broadcast, host sites and player experience, as we drive toward the ultimate goal of purse parity."

MAJOR PRIZE MONEY (most recent winner's cheques)

OPEN: Men $1.935m, Women $675,000 - $1.26m difference

US OPEN: Men $2.25m, Women $1m - $1.25m difference

PGA: Men $1.82m, Women $645,000 - $1.175m difference

Note: Masters is men's-only Major, ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship are women's-only Majors.

The BBC did highlight golf's successes, though, like the newly-announced tri-sanctioned ISPS Handa World Invitational, which will feature equal prize money.

The Vic Open is also an equal prize money event, as is the new Scandinavian Mixed, which will be hosted by Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson.

The BBC study showed that since the 2017 report, sports such as hockey, cliff diving, surfing and wrestling have achieved equal pay at at least one major competition.

Of all 48 sports included in the report, cricket has taken the biggest strides to narrow the gap.

"Women's sport continues to go from strength to strength," said Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.

"It's absolutely right that the rewards match that success and we have seen a significant levelling up in the prize money on offer in recent years.

"We must continue to push for greater participation, employment, commercial opportunities and visibility in the media for women's sport, to keep up this momentum."

Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x