LPGA total prize money continues to rise, but it is still possible for players to lose money. Many players wonder if the winners should make less.

Nov, 2022

Belleair, FLA — The winner’s check for the CME Group Tour Championship is equal or greater to the purse at 20 LPGA events this season. The record-breaking $2 million payday will be headlined across the country. It will continue the story that women’s golf is richer than ever.

For players with conditional status on LPGA, and who fall between No. It’s getting harder to make a living playing golf.

Ads code goes here

Major championship purses are increasing and more players (currently 22) enjoy seven-figure seasons with the LPGA. However, most week-to-week purses for the largest tour in women’s golf have not increased in the past decade.

Amy Olson, a nine-year veteran and CPA, said that she has seen many players leave due to financial issues.

“You need a tour that is sustainable for the next generation. We don’t have it right now.”

CME Group Tour Championship’s purse increased from $1.5million to $7 million over the past ten years, pushing major championships to raise more cash. The record-breaking $10 million purse was offered by the U.S. Women’s Open this year. Since 2019, the AIG Women’s British Open prize money has grown by 125 percent. The average majors winner’s check has increased from $422,000 up to $1.2 Million over the past 10 years. That’s life-changing money.

However, the money earned at the LPGA’s backbone events, which have been held weekly for decades, has only marginally increased over that period. This is true even for long-standing events in Asia that are limited field. They have seen their value drop by $100,000 to $200,000 since 2012.

Top players have always enjoyed the rewards of winning in limited-field Asian events, where there is no cut. Despite tournament organizers covering expenses, players who have a poor week in Asia are now losing money due to stagnant purses, increased travel costs, and other factors.

Ten years ago, the average purse for the LPGA was $1.57million. This did not include the majors and CME. It’s now $1.87million.

This is a 19% increase over ten years and below inflation. The average purse grew by 43 percent between 2002 and 2012.

In 2012, 19 events had purses less than $2 million. This year, there were 15.

It is not uncommon for players to make the cut in the LPGA but still lose money after she has paid her caddie, expenses for the week and so on. Olson stated that many people resort to credit cards.

Olson said, “Can you imagine the pressure standing on a drive with OB left and water left thinking? I just bought $4,000 for this week’s credit card.” That is not sustainable. It’s enough pressure as it is.

Amy Olson chip to the fifth hole during the second round at the Dana Open presented By Marathon at Highland Meadows Golf Club, September 02, 2022 in Sylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images).

The top half of the tour is now more wealthy than ever, but the bottom half is still poor despite every position on the money lists improving. In fact, the range of purse sizes on tour is so wide that the LPGA will now determine status based on the Race to CME points list in 2021.

What is the importance of the average purse? These are the fields where newcomers can get into via Qualifying School or the Epson Tour. With purses of $1.5 million, this is where most players start their dream. While most top players from other countries have financial backing and support from their national programmes, American players are often on their own.

Cheyenne Knight stated, “If you make it to the cut and finish 50th- or 60th,” she said, “you’re either breaking even or losing money.”

Women who spend most of their time on the road take a big hit as the country struggles with inflation. Dana Finkelstein stated that a flight from Phoenix to Tampa, which used to cost $170, now costs $370. In case the Pelican changed to Monday, she looked into flights and found they were $560. A weekly rental car used to cost $200, but now costs more than $300. Finkelstein estimates that most players who rent a car for a week are required to pay at least $3,000 per week after they have paid their caddie.

She said, “And that’s the cheap side.”

Caroline Inglis currently ranks 99th on CME’s points list and 98th ($164,798) on the money list. She estimates that she has spent $65,000 on her team, as well as travel for 16 events.

Inglis said, “I just had one month off and have this (Pelican), then I’m going have four months off,” referring to the LPGA 2023 schedule which begins with limited-field events. “I feel like this year I spent so much money, it’s unbelievable.”

Olson points out that there are approximately 200 LPGA members active and 150 players who have a reasonable-sized playing schedule each year. The 100th and 150th players on the money lists earned $128,647, respectively, last year. The $28,305 was earned by the 150th.

Stephanie Meadow estimates that her expenses for the year range from $115,000 to $125,000. This includes what it costs to hire her team. This includes staying in an average hotel and with a few host families.

Meadow said, “This tour is the best in the world. You’re almost top 100 in what you do.” Meadow added, “And there’s no other job (in the top 100), that would allow you to make enough money to buy an average-sized home.”

Quality healthcare and retirement investments are also important.

What is the solution?

The Pelican announced a purse of $3.25million for next year’s event – renamed The ANNIKA driving by Gainbridge – making this the largest purse for a non major event outside CME. Next year’s JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire will have a purse of $3 million, which is double what it had in 2022. Michelle Wie West will host the new Mizuho Americas Open with a purse of $2.75million.

It’s worth noting that the LPGA last year had the Gainbridge LPGA as well as the Pelican LPGA, for a total $3,750,000. The purse for this event is now $3,250,000.

Mollie Marcoux Samaan, LPGA commissioner, stated that more premium events like these are the LPGA’s first goal. The minimum purse for new LPGA events must be at least $2 million.

She said Golfweek, “We’re also exploring other opportunities.”

This is already happening at some majors. At the U.S. Women’s Open the people who didn’t make it to Pine Needles earned $8,000, twice what they received last year.

Marcoux Samaan said, “Listen, it is a meritocracy.” It’s hard to win here, and it’s hard to make the cut. We feel that those players should be compensated significantly for reaching that goal. Are there other ways we can help players?

Minjee Lee holds the trophy after she won the 77th U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, June 5, 2022 in Southern Pines. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images).

The DP World Tour announced last week that players will be guaranteed a minimum $150,000 towards their earnings for next season, provided that they make at most 15 appearances. This is in the midst of ongoing threats from LIV Golf and its guaranteed payments.

In August, the PGA Tour announced a similar program that will guarantee $500,000 upfront for both rookies and returning players. All others who don’t reach the threshold by the season’s close will receive the difference.

Ashleigh Buhai stated, “If you take a look, we are now the only major tour that doesn’t offer any kind of compensation.” It makes a big difference and you are not guaranteed any money.

Marcoux Samaan was asked if the LPGA could offer a similar program. He said that he thinks it would be possible. Our goal is provide the best possible service to our players.”

Olson would love to see every player in an LPGA team receive $3,000 upfront. The cut-off players will be paid an additional $4,000.

From where does the money come?

Olson suggests that one option is to alter the purse distribution. The purse is currently distributed so that the winner of most LPGA events gets 15 percent. Six percent of the purse is used to pay for the operation costs of the tour.

This leaves 79 percent available for anyone else who is selected. (The U.S. Women’s Open awarded 18 percent to the winner, while CME will award the winner approximately 29 percent.

Olson stated, “I believe we need to drop to 12 percent” or “take from the top 10 and be in a position to feed it into the bottom ranks.”

She notes that top players have many sources of income. They are eligible for prize winnings as well as appearance fees at other events and corporate sponsorship opportunities.

Olson stated, “I would suggest that the top 30 have great opportunities for sponsorships.” “I think it’s pretty iffy beyond that.”

Olson believes that a change in the purse distribution may be a temporary solution until all LPGA tournaments exceed $2.5 million.

General view of the Race for the CME Globe Money Box at the 18th Green, prior to the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon on November 14, 2018, Naples, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images).

Stacy Lewis wants to see additional responsibilities for players to be able to help at events, even if stipends are offered.

Lewis, who was a former No. Lewis, a former No. She said that it was difficult to imagine giving a stipend in a world where players are competing for more cash than ever. It’s also a high-stakes money list.

Lewis stated, “I think we should look at our purse distribution.”

Karen Stupples has experienced what it is like to win a major championship. She also knows what it was like to lose her last $500. Stupples loves a system that encourages players fight for their money. To persevere. She sees struggle as part of the learning process. Everybody has the chance to learn and grow.

Stupples stated, “Part of professional golf is what you signed up to,” and that “you have to play well to make it.”

Olson has asked her peers about the topic and some of the top players have shown their resistance. Olson believes that there will always be 20 people opposed to any change that would reduce the wealth of top players.

Nelly Korda, the American top-selling nelly, is one of them.

Korda said, “I feel that that would be a stepback in women’s sport, lowering the prize cash,” pointing out that PGA Tour winner receive 18% of the purse.

Lydia Ko said, however that although it sounds outrageous to take money from the winner, she can understand why.

Ko said, “I believe we are moving in the right direction of things, but I think it might need to be dispersed better.”

Gaby Lopez, a three-time winner, thrives in difficult conditions.

She said, “I enjoy the challenge.” “I understand my peers. Like they said, they have to make a living.”

Ryann O’Toole suggested that players might be paid for their participation in the pro-am. Others suggested that moving the cutline to 70 and ties to 60 and 65 or 65 and tie might be a good idea. Meadow, an accounting major, stated that she would need to create a spreadsheet in order to weigh all options.

O’Toole said, “At the end the day we’re entertainers, but we sometimes don’t get compensated for our entertainment.”

Olson was ranked seventh on the money list in 2020 and 119th (2016). She has also seen many of her peers go and come over the years. One friend had credit card debts that took five years to pay off and walked away.

Olson, a native of Oxbow in North Dakota, has a special fondness for people who, like herself, grew up small and had a limited season. She would like to see them get a better chance.

Olson stated, “We want to make professional golf accessible to women.” She also said that they don’t want the dream to become a nightmare and that women will have to recover from it over the next five years.


 FlyPinHigh.com (FPH) started as a small business. Yet it has now transformed from being an internet golf blog to a golf industry leader. FPH is now the best online resource for golf.

Copyright ©2022 Fly Pin High

Web design by 702 Pros