The Ladies Professional Golf Association and the Ladies European Tour have formed a partnership that aims to offer increased playing opportunities for both its members in Europe and around the world.
The venture will be jointly managed by the LPGA and the LET and, through their combined resources, will seek to develop an expanded LET schedule. LET players voted their support for the joint venture partnership during the LET’s annual membership meeting held in Spain on Tuesday.
This year’s LET schedule currently includes 20 tournaments in 13 different countries, with eight of those events in Europe, including two major championships, the Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open. The partnership aims to immediately increase playing opportunities for women in Europe, grow prize money levels, and provide a pathway to the LPGA for the LET’s top performers.
“Two teams, joining for one common purpose, will create opportunities we simply could not have pursued on our own,” said LET Board Chair Marta Figueras-Dotti. “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.”
LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said: “This is an exciting next step for the LPGA’s mission to provide more opportunities for women in this game. Over the past 10 years, the LPGA has had tremendous success partnering with other golf stakeholders to enhance opportunities for women worldwide. We are thrilled to deepen our relationship with the Ladies European Tour in an effort to create the strongest possible women’s tour in Europe. 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.”
Scotland’s Carly Booth, who is currently 10th in the LET Order of Merit, said the joint venture was ‘a very positive for the Tour’. In an interview with BBC Sport, she said: “It’s been a tough couple of years for us, both emotionally and financially, so it seems to be going in a more positive manner now. We have so much potential on this tour and people need to see how good we are. People are starting to invest in us, I’m feeling positive about what is next.”
The news of the new partnership comes on the back of the announcement that the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit will be renamed the Race to Costa del Sol from 2020, and offer a bonus prize fund of €250,000 to the top three finishers in the season-long ranking. This means that whoever tops the money list at the end of the year will receive an additional €125,000, with the second highest finisher receiving €75,000 and €50,000 for the third placed player.
The Andalucia Costa del Sol Open, which starts this Thursday at Aloha Golf Club in Marbella, will also see its prize money doubled from next year. The prize fund for the event in 2020 will be €600,000, up from €300,000.