Long considered the biggest event in women’s golf, the U.S. Women’s Open now has prize money and a future playing field.
The USGA announced Friday that this year’s prize money will nearly double to $10 million, making it by far the richest in women’s golf and challenging for the women’s sport’s top prize.
The wallet was $5.5 million at the time Sasaka Yuka Won at Olympic Club last year.
To help make that happen, the USGA brought in a sponsor — Ohio-based PreMedica, a nonprofit integrative health organization serving 28 states.
With the support of ProMedica, the U.S. Women’s Open prize pool is scheduled to increase to $11 million over the next five years, eventually reaching $12 million.
With funding soaring, the USGA is sending women to some of the classic U.S. Open designs that have been home to men for decades. The list includes returning to Oakmont and Pinehurst No. 2, as well as Riviera, Oakland Hills, Merion, Inverness and Interlaken.
The USGA said Pine Grove will host the men’s and women’s Opens for several weeks in 2029, much like its highly successful debut in 2014. Martin Kemer Having won the U.S. Open, Wei won her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open the following week.
It’s the USGA’s first major move since former LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan took over as CEO last summer.
“The USGA prides itself on hosting tournaments that provide not only an incredible stage for athletes, but also dreams for young players,” Wan said. “For more than 75 years, the U.S. Women’s Open has been the dream of every little girl in every country around the world to win.”
The partnership with ProMedica helps make that happen, he said. The health organization will also be a marketing partner of the USGA, and its “ProMedica Impact Fund” will be the official charity of the Women’s Open. The fund is committed to raising more than $1 billion over eight years for programs aimed at improving the health of individuals and communities.
“We’re going to push the game changer and what it means for young women around the world to reach new heights each year,” Wann said.
The Women’s Open was held June 2-5 at Pine Needles Lodge, North Carolina, before moving to Pebble Beach for the first time the following year. Pebble Beach is already planned.
The Pine Needles Women’s Open has a short but long history, with a roster of winners that includes Annika Sorenstam, Kelly Webb and Christy Cole.
Just one trip to Pinehurst – back-to-back weeks in 2014 – Pine Needles is one of the courses that can be flagged for the Women’s Open.
The future lineup is filled with historic courses such as the Riviera and Merrion courses that have hosted the U.S. Open over the years.
Most telling is Oakland Hills on the list. The Detroit-area course recently underwent a major renovation under the leadership of Gil Hanse, whose architectural firm was selected to design the Rio Olympic golf course for the 2016 Olympics.
It has been trying to land at the U.S. Open for the seventh time. Oakland Hills is where Ben Hogan famously “brought this course, this monster” to his knees when he won the Open in 1951, but has not hosted a men’s Open since 1996.
Hogan also won in 1948 on the Los Angeles Riviera, now home to the PGA Tour Genesis Invitational. It remains one of the most storied sites on the West Coast, but is seen as not having enough room to accommodate all the infrastructure needed for a men’s major, such as the U.S. Open.
Inverness of Toledo, Ohio, recently hosted the Solheim Cup. For the first time since then, the Women’s Open will also return to Interlaken outside of Minneapolis. Renfei Park She won her first Women’s Open in 2008. That event will take place in 2030, the 100th anniversary of Bobby Jones’ sweeping of the U.S. Open with an “unbreakable quad” in one of the four major golf tournaments of his era.
It’s unclear how much the winner will receive at the U.S. Women’s Open. Saso’s earnings are a little higher than the usual 18%, and the USGA hopes to offer the maximum return of $1 million.