On Tuesday, players from the Ladies European Tour voted that their tour will be run as a 50-50 joint business venture with the LPGA, meaning players could be fast-tracked into bigger tournaments to play for significantly more prize money in the United States.
“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 Mike Whan presented the LPGA's partnership proposal to players at the annual LET players meeting in Spain. The two Tour boards had already approved the proposal but the final say was down to the LET players.
“This is an exciting next step for the LPGA's mission to provide more opportunities for women in this game,” Whan said. “Over the past 10 years, the LPGA has had tremendous success partnering with other golf stakeholders, including the USGA, PGA Tour, European Tour, R&A and PGA of America, 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.”
Whan was keen to make sure it was understood that the LPGA's stake would have its limits.
“All proceeds stay in Europe, can't take any dollars out,” Whan said. “We can put money into the LET, but we can't take money back out, which I asked my board to support. I want to make sure the European Tour players know that this is not some American growth strategy.”
This season, the LPGA Tour had a total prize fund of £55 million, compared to the total of £12 million on the Ladies European Tour.
The LET Order of Merit which will be renamed the Race to Costa del Sol as of next year, will offer a bonus prize fund of £214,000, where the player who tops the money list at the end of the season will receive £107,000, the runner-up will receive £64,000 and £43,000 for third.
"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," added Whan.