Since Mollie Marcoux Samaan took over in 2021, prize funds on the LPGA have risen by nearly 70%getty images
LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan is calling this a “period of transformational growth for women’s golf,” according to Beth Ann Nichols of GOLFWEEK. Since 2021, prize funds have grown nearly 70%, with a record $118M on the line in 2024. In that same time, the LPGA’s media rights revenue has risen 25% and corporate partnership money is up 33%. Beyond that, the LPGA has “invested heavily in its team,” adding 18% more staff over the past year, including recently putting together its “first marketing department. Led by VP/Marketing Krista Olson, the three-person team’s objective is to “grow exposure for the tour.” Marcoux Samaan: “We’re going to drive fans to our tournaments and we’re going to drive fans to our media, all forms of media, social media, digital media; we’re driving them to our television broadcasts.” This season the tour partnered with SeatGeek to “create a single-source ticketing platform for tour events,” now the marketing department’s task is to “help sell more tickets.” Currently, LPGA players “struggle to break into the general sports landscape” in the U.S., “let alone mainstream media.” Nichols: “One would be hard-pressed to find many non-sports fans in America who can name a current LPGA player.” To “help build the individual brands of its players,” the LPGA has partnered with tennis player Naomi Osaka’s new production company Hana Kuma. Marcoux Samaan said that the tour “will focus on the brands of six to eight impactful players with Hana Kuma,” but “will offer tour-wide training” (GOLFWEEK, 11/16).
A REAL MERGER: GOLF DIGEST’s Kent Paisley reported the Ladies European Tour (LET) player body will “vote next week on a proposal to merge” with the LPGA. The merger proposal has “already received unanimous approval” from both the LPGA and LET boards. The vote, scheduled for Nov. 21, requires a “60-percent approval of the LET membership to pass.” Marcoux Samaan said that if it passes, there “would be some final details to iron out,” but LET players have been told the deal is “expected to become official by the end of the year.” Paisley noted under the initial three-year period of the merger, the two tours “would continue much like they do today.” The LET would “retain its name and maintain its own tournament schedule independent of the LPGA Tour, with a handful of co-sanctioned events continuing to be operated during the year” along with maintaining a headquarters in Europe. However, the two organizations “would work jointly in oversight of the LET and in developing revenue opportunities that could be mutually beneficial to all.” The LPGA intends to “pursue enhanced commercial opportunities with existing and new tour sponsors” (GOLF DIGEST, 11/16).
SCHEDULE REVEAL: SI’s Adam Stanley noted next year’s LPGA schedule will include 35 events (33 official) with three new tournaments. World Golf HOFer Se Ri Pak has also joined fellow major champions Michelle Wie West and Annika Sorenstam as an “LPGA Tour event host” for the newly named Se Ri Pak LA Open. Ten events in total have announced “elevated purses” for 2024 and it is “expected that additional purse updates will come through the year” (SI, 11/16).