New Foundation to Help Young Women Pro Golfers

By: Dave Andrews

Trying to make it as a professional golfer is a grind, in more ways than one. It's tough to play well enough to reach the highest levels in professional golf. It is also very tough financially in a sport where, for many just starting out, there's no guaranteed income. In fact, golf may be the only sport where professional players have to pay an entry fee just for the chance to compete for prize money. If they don't play well enough to cash a check in a given tournament, they end up losing money.

At the highest levels in men's and women's professional golf, players can make a lot of money through their own performances in tournaments and through endorsement deals with product manufacturer. There are hundreds of players who have become millionaires in the game. Tiger Woods is the highest paid athlete in any professional sport. In 2007, according to a report by Sports Illustrated, Woods made more than $111 million in tournament winnings and endorsements. Phil Mickelson made over $51 million that year. On the women's side of the game, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, and Michelle Wie lead a growing pack of multimillionaires.

Visions of those seven- and eight-figure incomes may dance in the heads of most young players just starting out. On the women's side, at the level just below the LPGA, the thoughts of many new professionals can be much more occupied with how they're going to come up with a $500 entry fee for their next event. Many also have to worry about even more mundane things, such as filling up the gas tanks in their cars as they travel thousands of miles each season from one tour stop to the next.

On the Duramed Futures Tour, the official developmental tour of the LPGA, it can cost a player about $35,000 every season to pay the entry fees and traveling expenses necessary to play on the tour. Only the top five or 10 players on the tour will earn that much in purse money during a season; the majority will make less than $5,000. When you do the math, it's a losing proposition for most of the young women trying to play well enough to reach the LPGA. That harsh economic reality forces many players, even those with the talent to play in the LPGA, to give up their pro careers after a few seasons of mounting debts.

To address that problem, a group of fans of the Duramed Futures Tour has organized a new foundation to raise money to help players who are struggling financially. The Future Stars Foundation is a grassroots organization and is not affiliated with the tour or the LPGA. On February 21st at Errol Estate Country Club in Apopka, Fla., the foundation will be holding a fundraising pro-am. It's also looking for donations from individuals and corporations that would like to help keep the dreams alive for many of the great young women trying to make it to the LPGA.

If you'd like to find out more information about the pro-am and its kick-off fundraiser, visit There are many wonderful young women golfers who need help from fans of the game.