In the world of professional golf, no one is safe from the ripple-effects of a PGA tour mass exodus to LIV Golf, the new Saudi-backed tour.
With salaries that have the potential to pay a careers-worth of earnings in a single season, it’s understandable to some how players may be able to justify the move.
“Put it this way, I think you would see almost the entire tour do it here,” said twenty-time LPGA tour winner Cristie Kerr, “What we play for here compared to the men’s Tour, the scale is different.”
Kerr continued her statement by acknowledging the history-making purse amount up for grabs at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which totaled $9 million, “We’re starting to see a rising tide lifting all the ships. … It’ll be interesting to see how it affects this tour.”
Many players feel a moral obligation rather than potential earnings to continue their play on the women’s tour circuit. However, LIV Golf CEO shared his vision of LIV as one of greater access to the game, something many female and male competitors have pushed for, “we’re here to grow the game golf on a global basis, not just in one specific sector, which is men’s. It’s across the board.”
While intentions of LIV Golf and the spillover effect it may have on other professional sports loom, some athletes have already found themselves stuck in the middle.
One of those players is Sarah Kemp. According to the Ladies European Tour, which falls under the LPGA, players must participate in a minimum number of LET events in order to maintain their status on the European tour.
This has raised eyebrows as some Saudi-backed tournaments like the Aramco Series are set for the LET schedule. In total, LET featured six events backed by the Saudi Arabian government.
Kemp acknowledged her freedom to choose to participate in the Aramco series after explaining that while traveling to the New York-based event would be convenient, she did life that the event’s winnings were supported by the Saudis.
The Australian further called out that while she understands her personal right to decline play in the event, her peers who compete full-time on the LET do not share the luxury. Moreover, Kemp expressed her wish for greater support of women’s golf events like that shown by the impressive KPMG purse.
“It would be so great to have a few more KPMGs in the world,” said the 36-year-old, “a few more CMEs that would love to support women’s golf.”
Some view the impact of LIV as positive one with impact to level the playing field for women in golf.
“The perfect example is tennis,” shared Saudi golf ambassador and professional golfer Bronte Law, “Why do the men get paid more than we do? The reason is because they play on the same site and they get the same media coverage. So if we can play at the same course, get the same TV coverage, there’s no reason why our purses can’t increase.”
This sentiment is one that we will likely see be made as more and more players on both men’s and women’s professional golf offer their thoughts on the switch and massive potential earnings.