Pioneering sponsorship brings windfall for female golfers.
By Jon Rizzi
Even a 127-year-old org can apparently learn some new tricks.
Last Friday, the United States Golf Association entered the 21st century when its new CEO Mike Whan announced that the august golf institution had entered into a 10-year partnership with ProMedica, a not-for-profit health organization that serves communities in Colorado and 27 other states.
This deal includes presenting partner rights for the U.S. Women’s Open—marking the first time since its founding in 1894 that any USGA championship has had a presenting commercial sponsorship associated with it.
The headline-grabbing part of the precedent-setting agreement, however, was that the purse would nearly double to $10 million, with the winner receiving a check for $1.8 million. The USGA additionally committed to continue to bump the purse in the next five years to $12 million.
A Great Start
Before we say “it’s about time,” note that in 2026—the fifth year of the sponsorship—$12 million will still be $500,000 less than the $12.5 million purse for the sponsor-less 2021 U.S. Open, which rewarded Jon Rahm with $2.25 million for winning the most lucrative of the four majors.
But the USGA isn’t the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which now boasts equal purses and winning shares for both men and women in its U.S. Open. Unlike golf, tennis’ national championship takes place over two weeks, with the men’s and women’s sides proceeding concurrently at the same venue, drawing equally large crowds. In 2014, when the USGA staged back-to-back U.S. Opens at Pinehurst (which it will do there again in 2029), the men outdrew the women by an average of 50,000 fans per day.
However, the USGA’s partnership with ProMedica—which will also be the official health and well-being partner of the USGA—represents a great start at bringing economic gender equality to golf’s championships. It also represents the commitment of Whan, the former commissioner of the LPGA, to being a champion for all golfers.
According to Whan, the partnership “allows us substantially to grow the championship in every way, from its purpose to its purse, to the places that host the event.”
Those host sites now include some of the most revered courses in the country: Pebble Beach (2023) and Riviera in California (2026); Inverness in Ohio (2027); Oakmont (2028 and 2038) and Merion (2034 and 2046) in Pennsylvania; Pinehurst in North Carolina (2029); Interlachen in Minnesota (2030); and Oakland Hills in Michigan (2031 and 2042). (Missing from the list are Colorado’s Cherry Hills and The Broadmoor, both of which have hosted the U.S. Women’s Open—in 2005 and 2011, respectively.)
From the perspective of ProMedica, the U.S. Women’s Open provides a global stage with which to raise more than $1 billion within eight years for its ProMedica Impact Fund, now the official charity of the U.S. Women’s Open.
The partners will support programs in championship communities with a focus on social determinants of health.
Kudos to the USGA for not only seeing the merit in sponsorships, but also for selecting a sponsor that aligns with its dot-org values and mission of acting in the best interests of the game for the continued enjoyment of all who love and play it.
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