Women golfers make about 1/15th of what male golfers make. That’s based on earnings of a typical PGA golfer (male) and a typical LPGA golfer (female), plus endorsement pay. The median pro male golfer in 2015 earned $703,000. The median pro woman golfer made $105,000. Things get even worse when we look at sponsor dollars. In 2015, Tiger Woods raked in an estimated $48 million in endorsement money. That’s about five times what he earned on the course. Lydia Ko, the leading earner in the LPGA, took in about $750,000 in endorsement pay the same year. That’s about 1/3rd of what she made playing golf. The sexism in professional golf is undeniable. But who’s sexist? The officials? The agents? The PGA and LPGA? The sponsors? Donald Trump? Or is it golf fans in general?
The Golf Gender Gap: 1500%
A lot gets said about gender gaps. Men make more than women. Women have to work more than men to earn the same amount of money. Women pay more than men for the same exact products under different names. But nothing matches the 1500% pay cut women golfers get for having breasts. There’s no arguing that it doesn’t exist because the math is irrefutable. The only question is, where does it come from?
Here’s the proof that the gender golf gap is real. Women golfers make about 1/7th what men golfers make on the course. We’ll get to the 1500% figure in a minute, but for now, let’s just take official PGA vs LPGA money. The median (typical) male golfer makes $703,000 per year as of 2015, while the median woman golfer makes $105,000. Worse, pay for male golfers has increased by 40% since 2005, from typical pay for full membership PGA golfers in 2005 of $500,000. Meanwhile, typical pay for LPGA golfers has remained the same.
Aside from medians and typicals, what about the top earners? Jordan Spieth earned the most official PGA dollars in 2015 with $12 million. Lydia Ko was the highest earning LPGA golfer the same year with $2.8 million. That puts her at 1/4 of Spieth’s earnings. That looks a lot better than 1/7th until we figure in endorsement pay. Ko earned about $750,000 in endorsement money in 2015. Meanwhile, Spieth earned an estimated $30 million from endorsements. A look at the top ten PGA and LPGA golfers in 2015 shows a similar story. The men earned between $15 million and $50 million in all money from on-course and off-course sources. The women earned from $1 million to $4 million. The golf gender gap is very real. There’s no denying the math.
Women Golfers Make a Lot Less Money Than Men
|Top Ten Male Golfers||Total Money 2015||Top Ten Women Golfers||Total Money 2015|
|Tiger Woods||$48,000,000||Lydia Ko||$3,550,802|
|Jordan Spieth||$30,000,000||Inbee Park||$3,419,014|
|Phil Mickelson||$50,000,000||Stacy Lewis||$2,461,450|
|Rory Mcllroy||$37,500,000||Sei Young Kim||$2,366,073|
|Arnold Palmer||$40,000,000||Lexi Thompson||$2,293,075|
|Jack Nicklaus||$22,000,000||Amy Yang||$1,869,806|
|Jason Day||$7,500,000||Cristie Kerr||$1,682,591|
|Rickie Fowler||$9,000,000||So Yeon Ryu||$1,680,114|
|Justine Rose||$8,000,000||Shanshan Feng||$1,412,239|
|Gary Player||$15,000,000||Anna Nordqvist||$1,271,066|
Also see: Lydia Ko Earnings and Net Worth
Where’s the Golf Sexism Coming From?
Since there’s no denying that there’s a gigantic gender pay gap in the world of professional golf, the question becomes, why does it exist? Where, to put a fine point on it, does the sexism originate? It would be easy to point fingers at the PGA for setting their prize money so much higher than the LPGA’s, or at the LPGA for setting theirs lower. It would be just as easy to call out big companies like EA Games or Nike for not bestowing huge endorsement deals on women golfers. A slightly more difficult investigation might involve a look in the mirror. NBC’s Golf Channel was viewed by 79 million viewers in 2014. 17.2 million of those viewers, or 22%, tuned in to watch LPGA events. If those statistics hold across all other networks and platforms, that means about five times more viewers value PGA (male) golf events than LPGA. So why in that case did women golfers earn 1/7th of what men golfers did instead of 1/5th? Those numbers were for 2014. Viewership for LPGA events fell in 2015 by 40%. Less viewers means less sponsor money and ultimately less prize money. When it comes to finding the source of sexism in golf, we have seen the enemy, and he (or she) is us.
To dig in a bit more into the golf pay gender gap, check out our articles on Jordan Spieth’s net worth, Tiger Woods’ net worth and Lydia Ko’s net worth. Also see this post on how much money pro golfers make.