Back in 2011 Commissioner Mike Whan announced that the Evian Masters, a staple of the LET/LPGA schedule with a large paycheck, would be renamed the Evian Championship and become the fifth major starting in 2013. It was a daring move by Whan, meant to grab the attention of the sports world and inject excitement into a struggling league.
Evian had long served as a model sponsor in the women’s game. They matched the purse of the U.S. Women’s Open for years. Players considered it one of the best tournaments on the schedule. The decision to elevate it to a major was mostly met with praise and excitement. Christie Kerr applauded the decision at the time: “As an LPGA major, Evian will continue, as it has always done, to reach new heights year after year.”
Except, no, they haven’t.
Women’s golf has come a long way in ten years. One of the simplest ways to show that progress is to look at how purses have increased across the majors.
In 2013, Evian, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the LPGA Championship (now KPMG Women’s PGA) all had purses of $3.25 million.
Flash forward to 2023 and the Evian has inched up to just $6.5 million. That’s not as offensive as what Chevron doled out this year, but it’s getting embarrassingly close to half as much as the purses at the U.S. Women’s Open and KPMG Women’s PGA.. It’s also the exact same amount it gave out last year. Contrast that with the USGA, which lost presenting sponsor ProMedica but still upped its purse to a record $11 million dollars this year.
Evian used to walk the walk when it came to investing in women’s golf, and they did it during one of the bleakest times in the sport’s history. Unfortunately, once it was handed the golf equivalent of The Holy Grail, that investment has slowed to a crawl.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.