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While the men’s game offers far higher earnings than the women’s game, with an appealing average PGA Tour pro earnings figure, the devil is in the detail, and it's a similar story on the LPGA Tour.
The average LPGA Tour Pro earned $141,428 in 2021. Exactly half of the players on the money list earned above that figure, with Australian Katherine Kirk the last in that top group, earning $143.655. At the top end of the list, earnings were far higher, with each of the top 15 players earning seven figures and South Korean Jin Young Ko at the top with $3,502,161, or $184,324 for each of her 19 tournaments.
The top 111 players on the LPGA Tour earned at least $100,000 in 2021, with American Lindy Duncan marking that cut-off point with $104,311. However, the bottom 25 on the list even fell short of the US federal minimum wage (that currently stands at $7.25 an hour, equating to annual earnings of around $15,080 working 40 hours per week).
Even more alarming is the money earned by the player bottom of the list, in 188th place. American Katelyn Sisk made just $2,362 for her efforts on the LPGA Tour in 2021. Of course, you can point to the fact that Sisk only played four events, which partly accounts for those low earnings, but how about Canadian Jacelyn Lee? She earned more, taking home $3,852, but that was over 11 events, working out at an average of just $350 per tournament. This is an even starker figure when you consider the additional expenses players incur, something Danielle Kang pointed out when she revealed she’d made $6,000 in a tournament and didn’t break even.
The women’s game is starting to receive more competitive funding, particularly in the Majors. For example, the purse for the Chevron Championship increased from $3.1m to $5m in 2022, while the AIG Women's Open sees its purse boosted by $1m to $6.8m. Most impressive is the $10m purse for the 2022 US Women's Open.
Still, making a living from the LPGA Tour is considerably more precarious than the PGA Tour. Yes, big money is available, and over half of the players on the LPGA Tour earned six figures or over in 2021, but whether a player earns enough to thrive – or even break even – remains far from guaranteed.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.