On the week that the Ladies European Tour looks like merging with the LPGA Tour, Lydia Hall explains the obstacles that the European stars face
This week the LPGA commissioner Mike Whan will sit down with the Ladies European Tour in Spain to close the deal on a merger between the two tours.
The players will get the final vote, and the proposal will be for a 50-50 joint venture, with the initial cherry for the LET players being access to the LPGA’s Q-Series, the final stage of the tour’s Q School. Whan was also keen to point out that the LET should be a ‘tour that people can probably go and play for life’.
This week in Marbella the total prize fund is €300,000 which tells you plenty of the state of the LET. There aren’t enough playing opportunities and, unless you’re at the very top of the tree, then you’ll be struggling to make a decent living.
Lydia Hall has been a member of the LET for the past 12 seasons and she seems fairly typical of what has to happen to make ends meet.
“I teach one day a week when I’m home and I do some Amazon Flex delivery once or twice a week for four-hour blocks – a lot of the girls have second jobs as there are bills to pay. If you’re not playing then you’re not earning money unless you’re from a background where you are supported so people are doing bar jobs, teaching or anything that you can do in the evenings.”
How the LPGA merger is going to work exactly is unclear but Hall believes the key is to get the tournaments televised as much as possible.
“People don’t know the standard as it’s not live on TV, until it’s on the TV then everyone is banging their heads against a brick wall. Nobody is going to put up more money for women’s events until it is on TV. I can’t get a sponsor as I am not on live TV, it’s not just the number of events, nothing will change in my opinion as it doesn’t attract sponsors and therefore prize funds.
“I’m sick and tired of hearing from pro-ams or teaching when everyone comes up and they say they love watching women’s golf as so it’s much more relatable – it is purely down to money and sponsorship. They’ve got the Golf Channel in the States so if we were under the LPGA umbrella then we may be on their highlights.”
Another way forward, and one that has been touched upon before, is to play some tournaments away from the usual Thursday to Sunday treadmill.
“I don’t understand why we can’t play on a Sunday to Wednesday, the sponsors say that they don’t get the crowds but as it’s not on TV they won’t get that – so let’s build the brand and make people want to come, then we can change the crowds. We can’t get on TV as the men are on it every single week, there’s not even a red button to watch women’s golf, and until that changes I can’t see us increasing tournaments or prize funds. We used to have Turkey and that was played Sunday to Wednesday and they doubled the prize fund as we could get on live TV.
“If we were on TV then maybe I would be able to attract sponsors and not have to work and do the job that I’m meant to be doing.”