July 19, 2018 / 5:08 AM / 2 years ago

R&A: Amateur game key to closing gender pay gap in pro golf

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - While gender equality is clearly prevalent in tennis, Novak Djokovic and Angelique Kerber both scooped $2.94 million for winning Wimbledon last weekend, the world of golf has a long way to go to catch up.

Total prize money at this week’s British Open is $10.5 million but the purse for the women’s equivalent next month is only $3.25 million.

The R&A, who run the sport worldwide along with the United States Golf Association, said the way to address the imbalance was to focus on the amateur game.

“Our primary objective is to make sure our game is thriving 50 years from now,” chief executive Martin Slumbers told reporters at Carnoustie. “The growth of women playing golf, women working in golf, and families playing golf, is critical to the long-term growth of the amateur game.

“If I just look at the UK, the most frightening statistic I’ve seen is that between 2016 and 2017 the average age of (club) membership went from 54 to 58 years of age,” said Slumbers.

“That is a significant problem we have to face so our Women in Golf Charter is one of our major planks of trying to get the amateur game to grow,” said Slumbers.

“We absolutely want to drive up the prize money for the Women’s British Open...but if we can grow the women’s amateur game, that helps the business model at the top end. That’s what we are trying to achieve.”

One of the chief aims of the charter is to develop a more inclusive culture in golf and to allow more women and girls to maximize their potential.

Slumbers, however, underlined that finance was a key factor in all considerations.

“Professional golf is a business, a business about how much revenue comes in from TV, from sponsors, and then you balance that against how much it costs to stage the event and how much you pay out in prize money,” he said.

“What we are working very hard with all our partners in the LPGA, the Ladies European Tour, the European Tour and the PGA Tour, is how do we improve the business model that is underpinning women’s professional golf?

“Directionally, we will go that way. That’s absolutely the right answer.”

Editing by Toby Davis

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