At a press conference for the upcoming Lexus Cup (an international team v asian team event), Annika Sorenstam said it’s unlikely the Men’s and Women’s Opens will offer equal prize money anytime soon.
The prize for the 2005 USGA’s Men’s Open was $6.25 million, while the Women’s Open was just over $3 million.
Tennis, on the other hand, does offer roughly equal prizes at the US and Australian Opens. The US Open, for example, offers a $1.1 million payout to both the male and female winners.
Annika’s statement got me to wondering about how the USGA gets away it. The USGA certainly a public organization, and subject to US anti-discrimination laws.
I’m not clear as to the USGA’s tax status. It’s listed on the IRS site as a charitable organization, but there is no associated tax code. But if does receive tax breaks—either from the US government, or from the state of New Jersey, where it’s headquarters is—then it is absolutely subject to laws against discrimination.
I’m sure I smell a civil rights lawsuit in the making. Perhaps a lawyer out there can clarify this for me.
Now, I’m not a radical feminist—far from it. (I’m a card carrying member of the Conservative Movement.) And I’m not a big fan of lawsuits. So perhaps the best plan would be for the members of the USGA to put pressure on the board. I don’t know what percentage of the USGA’s membership is female, but if you include them, plus every man who has a golf playing wife or daughter, it’s probably a big number.
So in the interest of kicking off a campaign, I’m calling on the USGA to work (if I may borrow a phrase) with all deliberate speed to equalize the payments. Certainly not next year, or even the next after that, but they ought to show some progress.