The USGA said it hoped to spark greater interest in women’s golf with the official launch of its “Women Worth Watching” campaign on Wednesday, an initiative that has the backing of some of the top players on the men’s PGA Tour.
A day ahead of the U.S. Women’s Open, USGA Senior Director of Communications Beth Major said the campaign drew inspiration from U.S. professional basketball.
Many NBA players donned the signature WNBA ‘hoodie’ and cheered on the women’s teams when they began their season over the summer in a biosecure ‘bubble’.
“We saw a lot of the NBA players so publicly declaring support for their counterparts on the WNBA, and to see how powerful that was,” said Major. “We realized that there was a great opportunity to see that on the golf side, as well.”
Nine-time major winner Gary Player, one of the greats of men’s golf, has lent his support to the campaign, while reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2015 PGA Championship winner Jason Day voiced their support on social media using the #WomenWorthWatching hashtag.
Brittany Lang, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2016 and is competing again this year, said support from the men’s tour would help generate interest.
“It’s really cool when the guys do that,” she added. “It just brings people in, gives the girls a little bit more respect, I think, because a lot of the time I don’t think we get it.”
The launch of the initiative coincides with the 75th edition of the oldest women’s major in Houston, Texas, where $5.5 million in prize money is on offer. That is less than half the $12.5 million up for grabs at the men’s event earlier this year.
World number three Nelly Korda, whose father Petr won the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam in 1998, said events that combined men and women could help boost the sport.
“It would spread the word more about it, and I think it would get more people interested in women’s golf,” she added.
“Not even just older people. I would say even like the younger generation, kids.”