LPGA to Celebrate 70th Anniversary Throughout 2020
Oldest continuous women’s sports league honors past and celebrates future
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 16, 2020 – Throughout 2020, the LPGA will celebrate its 70th anniversary with a campaign that honors the organization’s past while keeping a keen eye toward the next 70 years.
In 1950, a group of 13 women signed a charter forming what is now the oldest continuous women’s professional sports league, the LPGA Tour. The Founders were Alice Bauer and her sister Marlene Bauer Hagge, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Helen Detweiller, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessions, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
On Jan. 19-22, 1950, those pioneers competed in their first official event, the Tampa Open, at the famed Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. The total purse for that event was $3,500, with Polly Riley becoming the first winner in LPGA Tour history. That first year, the Founders competed in 15 events, all in the United States, for a total purse of $40,258.
Seventy years after those brave Founders took that first step, 2020 will see the best women professional golfers in the world compete in 34 LPGA events in 11 countries and regions, plus the Olympic Games in Tokyo, for a total of more than $75 million in prize money. In 2019, leading money winner Jin Young Ko earned just less than $2.75 million in her 22 LPGA Tour events.
Two living Founders, Hagge and Spork, continue to connect the past with the present and the future.
When referencing the LPGA mantra “Drive On,” a theme that transcends golf to move women and girls forward in life, Spork said, “I love the phrase ‘Drive On’ because that’s what we did. When we formed the LPGA 70 years ago, we drove everywhere, from state to state, golf course to golf course. We were trying to promote the fact that there could be possibly a professional women’s association.”
In addition to the LPGA Tour, the Symetra Tour and the new partnership with the Ladies European Tour, the LPGA has grown to include the LPGA Professionals, who teach, coach and promote the game around the world; the Women’s Network, a virtual community of women from all backgrounds and skill levels who connect through their love of the game; the LPGA Amateur Golf Association, that competes and engages at the amateur level; and LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, which has driven young girls to become the fastest growing segment of the game with more than 90,000 engaged in 2019.
As for the next 70 years, Spork said, “The juniors I see in the game today, the number of girls who come out and find confidence through golf, they show me that we’re on a good path. Obviously, it would be wonderful if the media continued to support and cover us so the LPGA can continue to expand. I see the future moving up in the same direction.”
Throughout the year, the LPGA will showcase content from the past and present to provide a bridge to the future.
“The Founders provided a model for strong, visionary leadership 70 years ago,” said Roberta Bowman, LPGA Chief Brand and Communications Officer. “Everyone involved with the LPGA strives to live up to their example every day. With the support of our partners, our players, our professionals and the millions of fans who follow the LPGA, we are confident that even greater opportunities for leadership lie ahead.”
About the LPGA
The LPGA is the world’s leading professional golf organization for women. Founded in 1950 and headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla., the association celebrates a diverse and storied membership with more than 2,300 members representing more than 30 countries. With a vision to inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the very best of women’s golf, LPGA Tour Professionals compete across the globe, while the Symetra Tour, the official development and qualifying tour of the LPGA, consistently produces a pipeline of talent ready for the world stage. Additionally, LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals directly impact the game through teaching, coaching and management.
The LPGA demonstrates its dedication to the development of the game through The LPGA Foundation. Since 1991, this charitable organization has been committed to empowering and supporting girls and women through developmental and humanitarian golf initiatives, such as LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.
Follow the LPGA on its television home, Golf Channel, and on the web via www.LPGA.com. Join the social conversation at www.facebook.com/lpga, www.twitter.com/lpga and www.youtube.com/lpgavideo, and on Instagram and Snapchat at @lpga_tour.
Vice President of Communications