Women’s Golf has received a major boost with the news yesterday that the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Spanish Women’s Open is to have its prize fund doubled from €300,000 to €600,000.
The news followed hot on the heels of the announcement that the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit was to be renamed as the Race to the Costa Del Sol and that another prize fund of €250,000 had been created for this season-long competition.
Both announcements have come as a result of backing from the Spanish Government through the local regional authority of Andalucia and while not matching the money available on the Men’s equivalent tournaments yet they are a big step in the right direction.
The global advance of the Women’s sport is also to be enhanced by a new partnership between the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Professional Golfers Association of America.
The venture will be jointly managed by the LPGA and the LET and, through their combined resources, will seek to fast track an expanded LET schedule.
This year’s LET schedule currently includes 20 official events in 13 different countries, with eight of those events in Europe, including two major championships, The Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open.
The total prize fund for the latter was $4.5 Million in 2019 with winner Hikano Shibuno securing a payday of over €600,000.
Only four of the Top 20 finishers were from Europe however and the new investment and partnerships that the European game is looking to advance will hopefully see growth here.
The partnership aims to immediately increase playing opportunities for women in Europe and to have that schedule growth lead to both increased financial opportunities and an optional pathway to the LPGA for the tour’s top performers.
Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadows are playing on the LPGA Tour at the moment but the expansion of the schedule closer to home will give rise to greater opportunities for young players to come through.
“Two teams, joining for one common purpose, will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own,” said LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti. “At its foundation, this joint venture is about creating opportunities for our members to pursue their passion and their careers as professional athletes. In just the 60 days since we began working on this joint venture, we have already seen a dramatic impact on our LET Tour schedule – an impact that will be a positive result for virtually all of our LET Members.”
Given the hosting of the Men’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush this year, the presence of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the Rolex series and the investment in the sport here over recent years, perhaps an Irish Women’s Open should be a serious target to get off the ground as part of the expansion plans.
Image Credit: Ladies European Tour Tristan Jones