The LPGA and PGA Tour are launching their first mixed-team event
The GIST: This weekend, the LPGA and PGA Tour will field a long-awaited crossover at the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational, the first mixed-team event of its kind. Sixteen pairs of golfers — each touting a LPGA and PGA star — will compete for an equally distributed $4M prize. A level playing
The sponsor: Grant Thornton LLP is an American firm that offers professional accounting, tax, and advisory services. Golfers Mel Reid, Nelly Korda, and Jessica Korda are brand ambassadors, and the company is an official marketing partner of the PGA Tour.
The details: The tournament tees off Friday in Florida at the Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, which is also host to the LPGA calendar’s final tourney, the CME Group Tour Championship. Notably, the format of equal visibility and prize money for PGA and LPGA golfers at a combined event hasn’t existed in pro golf’s current era since 1999.
Four of the top 10 LPGA players are playing, including No. 3 Ruoning Yin, No. 8 Nelly Korda, No. 9 Megan Khang, and No. 10 Celine Boutier. The 32 golfers boast a combined 141 career victories and 11 major championships. Stacked.
The business case: The invitational can succeed by bringing separate golf fan bases together — something the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup whiffed on this summer. Plus, the LPGA and PGA have an opportunity to compete with LIV Golf’s innovative format by building a diverse, easy-to-follow joint event — especially since LIV still lacks a women’s tour.
Zooming out: The LPGA and PGA Tour are finally taking a page out of the WTA and ATP’s playbook — the orgs both have a presence at tennis’ joint Grand Slams and are able to cultivate a cohesive tennis fandom that benefits both men and women. Look at this year’s US Open, which averaged 3.4M viewers for the women’s final and 2.3M for the men’s.
- Learning from the WTA and ATP is smart — the individualized sports of tennis and golf have formats conducive to creating gender parity through mixed events and equal prize pools. That’s a swing that won’t miss.