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No Fans at the U.S. Open Changes Golf’s Revenue Picture

  • September 16, 2020

Girls Golf, which works with girls to teach them golf and life skills, was hit with a double whammy in March. It receives $1 million from the U.S.G.A. and the L.P.G.A., the governing body for women’s golf, which halted its season in March.

“We didn’t really know what was going to happen,” said Nancy Henderson, chief teaching officer and president of the L.P.G.A. Foundation. “Our initial focus was our Girls Golf sites weren’t able to do programming in person, so we moved a lot of it online.”

While grants from both organizations came through, Ms. Henderson remains worried about next year. “That’s the big question,” she said. “You don’t know if you’ll be back to a new normal.”

Organizations like these, which are focused on growing the game of golf, share $25 million from the U.S. Open, the same amount that goes to fund the other 13 championships. The remaining $20 million is divided equally among agronomic research and the organization’s governance, rules and handicap systems.

For Winged Foot, the lack of fans is a mixed bag. Clubs that host a U.S. Open do it for different reasons. At Pebble Beach, Pinehurst or Torrey Pines in California, which hosts next year, the Open acts like a four-day marketing brochure for these resorts.

But at some of the private clubs in the rotation, like Winged Foot, Oakmont and the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where the 2022 Open is to be held, hosting a U.S. Open is part of the club’s identity. It’s a hassle the membership tolerates in return for some remuneration and far greater prestige in the golf world.

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