The Ladies European Tour players have voted to join forces with the LPGA Tour in a bid to increase their playing opportunities and rewards
The detail was fairly scarce but the news that the LPGA and Ladies European Tours would be uniting in a joint venture is enormous.
As recently as 2017 seven tournaments failed to take place on the LET for a variety of reasons and the future looked very precarious. Now with the backing of Mike Whan and his far sturdier LPGA Tour there seems plenty to look forward to as long as there are more playing opportunities and greater prize funds available and, along with it, the enormous carrot to get some playing privileges on the LPGA.
The most recent word on this was that the initial deal would include a pathway to the LPGA’s Q-Series which is the final stage of the tour’s Q School.
This year’s LET schedule currently includes 20 events in 13 different countries, with eight of those events in Europe, including two majors. The merger aims to up those starts straightaway and make the earnings potential more lucrative.
In comparison and in stark contrast the LPGA announced last week that their 2020 schedule would feature 33 events in 11 countries with a record prize fund of $75m.
The agreement came about after the LET players voted it through in their AGM in Spain where they’re playing this week
Beth Allen, who topped the money list in 2016, told Matt Cooper of Forbes: “The meeting was very civilised, likely the most civilized LET meeting that I’ve been to in years. Mike Whan is very charismatic and well-spoken.
“His presentation was very good and over 90 per cent of the tour voted yes. I felt like going with the LPGA collaboration was the right thing to do. I’m obviously excited that there will be more opportunities to play next year and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens moving forward.”
Two-time winner Meghan MacLaren added: “We as players know how much potential lies in the product we have at the LET and how much potential there is within women’s golf, and for the first time in what feels like forever, people are turning that into a vision, people are willing to turn that into action.”
Meanwhile the chair of the board Marta Figueras-Dotti explained in a statement how quickly this had all come together: “Two teams, joining for one common purpose, will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own. At its foundation this joint venture is about creating opportunities for our members to pursue their passion, and their careers as professional athletes. In just the 60 days since we began working on this joint venture, we have already seen a dramatic impact on our LET Tour schedule – an impact that will be a positive result for virtually all of our LET members.”
The venture will be jointly managed by the two tours and commissioner Whan explained that it was the LPGA’s duty to step in and help get the LET going again.
“We have experienced incredible growth in women’s golf in the US, and this is an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate and expand the game in Europe as well. I’m excited that this is something we will build together, with the LET.”
Photo courtesy of Ladies European Tour.