R&A's 'long-term ambition' is equal prize funds in men's and women's Opens

Phil Anderton, the R&A‘s chief development officer, has reiterated the St Andrews-based organisation’s “long-term ambition” to have equal prize-money for The Open and AIG Women’s Open.

Phil Anderton took up a new role with the R&A, where he's in charge of strategic and operational responsibilities for Golf Development and Amateur Championships, in August. Picture: R&A
Phil Anderton took up a new role with the R&A, where he's in charge of strategic and operational responsibilities for Golf Development and Amateur Championships, in August. Picture: R&A

All four tennis grand slams offer equal prize pots for their men’s and women’s champions, witn the winners at Wimbledon next weekend each set to walk away with £1.7 million.

Germany’s Sophia Popov earned around £490,000 for her fairytale triumph in last year’s AIG Women’s Open Royal Troon, which was a lot less than Shane Lowry’s £1.4 million pay-day in the most recent men’s Open at Royal Portrush in 2019.

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“(Our) long-term ambition is to get as close to parity as we can, and, in fact, steps have already been taken in that area,” said Anderton, speaking to reporters ahead of this year’s AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie in August.

“Back in 2019, the total prize-money for the AIG Women's Open went up by 40 percent, so significant changes, and it's with companies like AIG that enable us to begin to move in that direction.

“But to really achieve it and to be sustainable, what we'll need is all of the women's professional events, together with the whole industry, raising our game to drive up the interest and the profile of the women's game.

“Because it's ultimately demand - the fans' demand, the media demand, the broadcast demand - that will decide and generate the revenues that will enable us and others to support the professional women with the kind of prize money that is currently afforded to the men.”

Replying to being asked if he could see parity within the next 10 years, Anderton added: “I don't like to look in the crystal ball too much or put exact dates on it.

“But one of the really powerful bits of information I saw the other day from a report that we've just got back is that in Great Britain, the percentage of people who play golf in all its formats, the on course but also alternative formats, driving ranges, et cetera, the percentage of women playing golf has gone from 16 percent in 2019 to 28 percent. That's almost a doubling in the space of a year.

“Now, if you drive those numbers up and you translate that into people following the sport on broadcast, going to events, that will drive up the revenues that will enable the whole sport to be getting nearer to parity as well as the R&A with the AIG Women's Open.

“There are other sports that have done that. It took a long time to progress to that, and I think it's really encouraging that the R&A took the proactive and bold step to say we need to do better. We need women to be a key part of golf. So let's hope in the next decade we can move nearer to that target.”

Anderton praised the work of Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher in helping introduce youngsters to golf through their foundations, as well as other junior programmes like the Carnoustie Craws.

He added: “The more of these introductory programmes that make golf appealing, I think it will be fantastic for the sport.

“We're partnering with Modest! Golf, with Niall Horan, so watch this space for the kind of activities we're going to be doing with them.”

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