Yes, we know—the purses are smaller and perhaps you haven’t watched as much of the LPGA Tour as the men’s side, given there are less tournaments on network television. But the women’s game continues to show signs of growth and viewership.
Here are five myths about LPGA Tour pros that may prompt you to tune in next time.
They use women’s clubs
If you think the women of the LPGA Tour are out there swinging the same women’s clubs that appear on any retailer’s shelf, you would be mistaken.
The data confirms that the average swing speed of a golfer on the LPGA Tour is slower than the PGA Tour. Full stop. But it’s more likely, according to one club fitter, that LPGA Tour golfers are generally using lighter weight stiff-flex shafts—not unlike what many “average amateur” males would use.
According to GolfWRX, Lexi Thompson, for example, used an 8.5 degree Cobra King F9 Speedback driver in 2019—the same driver Rickie Fowler uses.
They barely play for any money
There is a long way to go with respect to parity of pay between male and female sports—of that, there is no denying. Golf fans and viewers can see that the pay disparity between those on the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour is pronounced, and there is a short list of sponsors who are financially invested in the players on the LPGA Tour. But the organization has been on a great trajectory with the companies it had signed on as title sponsors for events around the world.
In November of 2019 the LPGA announced a 33-event schedule with a total prize purse of $75.1 million—up $5.1 million from the year prior and up $10 million since 2016—with the CME Group Tour Championship touting a winner’s check of $1.5 million. A total of 111 golfers on the LPGA Tour made more than $100,000 on the course in 2019 (far exceeding the $63,179 median income for workers in the U.S. the same year). For those at the top of the talent pool, there is a growing number of prize money to be won.
They don’t play the big-time golf courses like the men
Frankly, some of the courses the LPGA Tour is heading to for its majors over the next couple of years are better than the ones where their male counterparts are going to. Kudos to KPMG and the PGA of America who have been giving players of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship some fabulous experiences of late—like Aronimink Golf Club (host of the 1962 PGA Championship) in 2020 and Hazeltine National Golf Club (which held the 2016 Ryder Cup and PGA Championships in 2002 and 2009) in 2019. They’ve also had men’s major championship venues Olympia Fields and Sahalee Country Club in the last five years and are heading to other well-known major venues in Congressional and Baltusrol two out of the next three years, with the Atlanta Athletic Club on tap for the first time for the women in 2021.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Women’s Open has been to Pinehurst, Oakmont, Country Club of Charleston, and Shoal Creek in the last decade, to name a few sites. The next five years include stops at The Olympic Club, Pebble Beach, and Erin Hills. The AIG Women’s Open is playing at Carnoustie and the Old Course at St. Andrews in the next five years, plus at first-time hosts Walton Heath and Muirfield.
Next time you think about surfing past the channel of a women’s major, take a closer look and you may recognize a familiar layout.
They hit it short
LPGA Tour pros are not hitting from the “ladies tees.” In fact, most LPGA Tour courses are set up between 6,200 and 6,600 yards—comparable to what most men will play from at their home club. On top of that? The average golfer on the LPGA Tour averages between 230–270 yards off the tee (and a few who top 280 per pop) which is, even on the shorter end of the distance spectrum, 15 yards longer than the average male amateur according to the USGA distance report.
Trackman data says the average male amateur driver clubhead speed is 93.4 mph. For the average LPGA Tour golfer it’s 94 mph. So, the next time you think an LPGA Tour golfer is hitting it short, it’s likely they’re going to hit it past you—and a whole lot straighter, too.
It’s a tour dominated by golfers from Asia
While there has been a lengthy dominance by Asian golfers over the last decade or so, Americans, while they never left the conversation, are getting louder with their performance.
In 2020, American golfers (five wins) outpace their counterparts from Asia (four wins) and Europe (four wins) in the winner’s circle on the LPGA. The two best players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are from South Korea, but following in their footsteps are two of the brightest young stars in the game—Danielle Kang, the tour’s leader in wins this season, and 22-year-old Nelly Korda, already a three-time LPGA winner. Young superstars in American Lexi Thompson and Canadian Brooke Henderson, both major champions, have also positioned themselves as top-10 talents.
The LPGA is a global organization, but the myth that Asian golfers dominate it is, of late, more myth than fact.