The LPGA: 60 Years Strong
LPGA celebrates 60 Years this season; Duramed FUTURES Tour celebrates 30 years.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., February 16, 2010 – The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) kicks off the 2010 season this week by celebrating its 60th year as a leader in the world of professional sports. Founded in 1950, the LPGA was built by 13 pioneering women who envisioned a full professional tour for women golfers.
Additionally, the LPGA's developmental tour, the Duramed FUTURES Tour, celebrates its 30th year of competition this season. More than 500 alumnae have moved on to the LPGA Tour from the developmental level, including current Rolex Rankings No. 1 player Lorena Ochoa.
Over 60 years, the LPGA has grown and developed from a U.S. domestic tour with 14 tournaments and just $50,000 in total prize money to a global tour which crosses 11 nations and includes players from 29 different countries, competing this year for $41.2 million. The LPGA also is home to more than 1,300 LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals and The LPGA Foundation, which serves as the umbrella for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, junior scholarships and financial assistance funds.
“The growth of the LPGA has been incredible” said Michelle Ellis, LPGA Tour player and President of the Player Executive Committee. “The Founders created a whole new industry for women in golf and none of us would have the opportunity today without the blood, sweat, tears and heart of our 13 Founders.”
Five of the 13 LPGA Founders are still alive today: Bettye Danoff, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Louise Suggs. The others who the LPGA continues to honor were Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, Helen Dettweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessions and Babe Zaharias.
Record web traffic on LPGA.com and a ground-breaking 10-year partnership with the Golf Channel are recent testaments to the growing popularity of the LPGA. In 2009, LPGA.com page views increased 10 percent over the entire year, drawing 8 million unique visitors to the site. Golf Channel saw a nine percent increase in tune-ins. While the performance, passion, and personality of the players drive viewership and web hits, decades of support from dedicated fans and longtime corporate sponsors have bolstered the LPGA.
“The LPGA was built on a rock-solid foundation” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “Our Founders signed the LPGA Articles of Incorporation based on the principles of diversity, opportunity, and community - values which still reside in our core today with the LPGA Tour, Duramed FUTURES Tour, LPGA Foundation and LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals. From the beginning, we have partnered with fans and companies who share these consistent values. We applaud and thank all our partners and fans for the last 30 and 60 years, and look forward to moving ahead together for another 60.”The celebration of the History of the LPGA and the Duramed FUTURES Tour will be highlighted throughout the year on www.LPGA.com and www.duramedfuturestour.com .