The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced earlier this month that ProMedica (a mission-based, not-for-profit integrated health and well-being organization that serves communities in 28 states) would be the first presenting sponsor of the US Women’s Open. The prize-purse for the US Women’s Open was upped from $5.5 million to $10 million as part of the “purpose-driven” partnership, surpassing the previous women’s tour high of $5.8 million. By 2027, the USGA expects to increase the award to $12 million.
Over the last few years, the announcement of record-breaking prize money has become somewhat of a norm in women’s golf, as prominent companies making their way into the sport have tried to outdo one another. However, Shawn Quill (National Sports Industry Leader, KPMG) described the first eight-figure prize pool in tour history as a “quantum leap forward” and wondered if the ProMedica deal would be the “tipping point for women’s golf—or women’s sports in general—in terms of the investments that they receive.”
According to Statista, women’s golf received only seven cents out of every dollar spent on sports sponsorship in 2019. While that figure appears modest, it shows an improvement over a decade earlier. Women’s sports sponsorships accounted for only.4% of total sports sponsorship spend between 2011 and 2013.
Female golf participation and viewership are also increasing (500,000 female players joined the game during the first nine months of the epidemic). “The LPGA is expanding faster than any other men’s sport in terms of TV ratings and fan engagement,” Quill said.
KPMG was one of the first major corporations to invest in the sport of women’s golf. The firm partnered with the LPGA and the PGA of America in 2014 to promote the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, one of the LPGA’s majors. The event’s $3.5 million prize pool in 2015 (a 50 percent increase year over year) drew the interest of other events.
AIG, DOW, AON, Chevron, and Cognizant, in addition to KPMG, have all joined or boosted their interest in the women’s golf over the last decade, despite the fact that traditional marketing measurements (such as Nielsen TV ratings and brand impressions) apparently do not justify the commitments on paper.
Women’s sports now account for the majority of KPMG’s sponsorship budget. The corporation sponsors three female players in addition to its sponsorship of the Women’s PGA Championship and the women’s leadership conference it hosts surrounding the event. In contrast, it only sponsors two men’s soccer players (one is Phil Mickelson).