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.”