Recently retired LPGA star and Dow ambassador Suzann Pettersen says there is no easy way to resolve wage inequality between female and male professional golfers.
“You are fortunate enough to play golf and have it your main job,” said Pettersen Thursday afternoon during a 30-minute live Facebook interview with Katie Miller, a member of the Midland County Inclusion Alliance ward council, during this week’s session Dow Great Lakes Time Spent In Midland Bay Invitation.
Pettersen played professionally from 2001 to 2019, winning 22 tournaments and being ranked number 2 in the world. She competed at the first Dow GLBI with teammate Catriona Matthew in 2019 and retired two months later after sinking the winning putt for Team Europe at the Solheim Cup.
“Many sports don’t even have the athletes’ pay to do it full-time. … We’re lucky enough to have chosen the right sport to make a living,” continued Pettersen.
“On the other hand, why are men paid twice, even three, four, six times as much as we do? We invest the same energy, time and effort. There are many reasons for this. I don’t think this is an issue that one can talk about Night can change. You have to start gradually in the right direction before it has an effect. “
An article in The Straits Times reported that the LPGA’s total prize pool in 33 competitions in 2020 was $ 75 million, compared to $ 400 million the PGA paid in 49 competitions.
Some sports, such as tennis, have made progress in bridging the gender pay gap, Pettersen noted.
“The (Women’s Tennis Association) raised its voice to get equal pay (for both sexes) for the Grand Slam tournaments,” she said. “You need frontliners to get the message across and get the message across so often that action is taken.”
The problem of wage inequality in professional golf needs to be addressed for both men and women, according to Pettersen.
“If you ask me personally, I think the men are overpaid,” she said.
On the part of the LPGA, however, Pettersen is satisfied with the direction of the organization.
“The LPGA is probably stronger than ever. For the past 10 years we’ve increased the overall budget every year,” she said. “We are building the brand to become stronger and more powerful. We can be different from the PGA. One of our key values is to make it a great experience for everyone who comes out is the responsibility of the tour. “
Be a mother and a professional athlete
Miller asked Pettersen, a mother of two young children, to speak about the life of a mother who is a professional athlete.
“First of all, I have to give a big applause to every working mother out there because it’s a very tough balance,” said Pettersen. “After my first child, it was difficult to compensate for the time and effort required to play at the highest level (in golf). Sometimes my heart didn’t want to.”
When she first became a mom in 2018, her view of golf changed dramatically, she said.
“In the end, it didn’t matter whether it was a good or bad day in the office,” said Pettersen. “You want to achieve your goals. But I felt like the fire that got me to the top and the ego – my ego was kind of gone because the kids were running the show and using up every ounce of energy I had left. “
The LPGA has offered a free childcare program to all of its players and staff since 1993, including this week at the Dow GLBI.
“Knowing that you can drop your child at any time of the day and that you are 100% in good hands makes it much easier to drop them off the next day,” said Pettersen.
This enables mothers who are professional golfers to share the joy of their careers with their children, she said.
“I think it is important for many of us (LPGA professionals who are mothers) to show our children that we can do well so that they can live our dream with us,” said Pettersen.
In a similar development, five-time U.S. track and field athlete Allyson Felix, who has a young child, announced a new partnership with Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation last week to create The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants. The program has raised $ 200,000 for professional athletic mothers to help cover childcare costs.
At the end of the interview, Miller asked Pettersen what advice she would like to young girls who play sports.
“Follow your heart; your gut feeling is usually the right one, ”Pettersen replied. “I would love it if everyone could live their dream. Your dream can never be big enough. There are no limits to how good you can be, as long as it comes from the heart.”