JERSEY CITY, NJ — The life of a female professional golfer isn’t always glamorous.
“We watch the NBA, the NFL, the PGA Tour, and how luxe their lives are, riding in private planes and staying in five-star hotels every week — and that’s not the life of an LPGA Tour player,” said Michelle Wie West at media day for the LPGA’s Mizuho Americas Open, of which she is the tournament host.
“We’re lugging our golf bag, trying to find really good deals on hotels, because, what people don’t realize with golfers is we pay for everything. We pay for our caddies, our [physical therapy]our hotel — you don’t make the cut, you’re down however much that is.”
The controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit, however, boasts lucrative guaranteed contracts and no-cut events with substantial purses. And after poaching many notable names in the men’s game from the PGA Tour, LIV CEO Greg Norman said last month that he’s interested in getting involved with the women’s game.
“That is a discussion we have internally on a regular basis,” Norman said. “I have personally had discussions with individual LPGA Tour players, Ladies European Tour [players].”
Wie West, the 2014 US Women’s Open champion and one of the LPGA’s most recognizable figures, told GolfChannel.com that the women’s game is currently in a good place but noted that there’s room for improvement — and she doesn’t believe LIV is the right path in doing so.
Michelle Wie West to host inaugural LPGA/AJGA event at Liberty National in 2023
“I always think competition is great,” Wie West said, “I think unfortunately the situation — the source of where the money is coming from, it’s a completely different ball game in terms of men and women. I think that inherently us being a tour of females, comes with its extra set of complications when dealing with a tour that is funded by a certain corporation or country.
“It’s a very complicated answer but we are a tour founded by women, led by women, and I would love for us to keep growing.”
The Saudi regime, which is bankrolling LIV with its sovereign wealth fund, has a contentious record on human and women’s rights. Last July, though, LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan admitted she would entertain discussions with LIV and Norman.
“I would engage in a conversation if it would achieve our aim of promoting women’s golf, but there needs to be input from players and sponsors,” she said. “There’s a lot of factors to consider before we do business with LIV.”
Wie West, 33, who retired from playing full-time in 2022, can’t blame any LPGA player who chooses a more luxurious life, despite where the funds may come from.
“If the money is there, if it creates great opportunities for the women on our tour,” she said, “who am I to stop anyone from gaining financial stability in the way that we all deserve? But it is a complicated scenario as we all know. There is no one right or wrong or good versus evil. It’s very complicated and it gets even more so complicated when it’s about women.”