Senior Women’s Open Set For 2018 - Golfers Need To Ask: Why Did It Take So Long?

The USGA will hold its first Senior Women’s Open in 2018, righting an imbalance that has existed since the inaugural US Senior Open in 1980.

The championship will be open to professional and amateur women over the age of 50. It will consist of 72 holes, with a cut after 36.

“We have been looking at the possibility of this championship for the better part of three decades,” USGA executive director Mike Davis told Reuters. “Years ago we were never quite convinced we could make it successful long term.”

It will be nice that the Senior women will have a championship, but I find it appalling that it will take the USGA nearly 40 years to get it right. As the caretaker of the American game, that they have ignored half the population for so long is just unacceptable.

If golf has a problem with participation, its leaders need look no further than the gender gap.I don’t know that the male-female golfer ratio is nationally, but my own observations lead me to believe it is about 10-1 men. If golf were just to cut that ratio in half, the rounds-played problem would solve itself.

That the USGA has waited so long (and will wait another three years at that) is in my estimation a serious breach of responsibility. That’s to be expected though. Take a look at the 2015 Executive Committee: Fifteen members, including four officers and a General Counsel.  Three of them are women. It should also come as no surprise that just two are minorities.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is as diverse as the USGA’s Executive Committee has ever been.

No wonder women get the short shrift. The USGA Women’s Open purse for 2015 will be $3,250,000. The men’s is $8,000,00. I do not believe that a non-profit organization that sells itself as working “for the good of the game” should be underselling half the population.

Yes, I know the argument: the men’s game gets more interest, therefore more sponsors and more money. I believe, however, that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because the USGA has undersold the Women’s Open for all these years, it is viewed as a lesser event. If it had been sold as an equal event from the start, it may very well be financially equivalent. But “it’s just women” has been the USGA’s attitude.

I’ve got another beef with the USGA’s Executive Committee: All are big money executives and philanthropists. Who on this board represents the 90% of golfers who do not belong to private clubs? Where is the school teacher, factory line worker, small businessman, truck driver, or office clerk who make up most of the players on the course? How can the USGA know what’s “for the good of the game” when its top leadership represents only the top 10%.

There need to be some serious changes within the USGA.

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