The cost of touring Part 2

June 23, 2017

The cost of playing on the LPGA Tour has several elements. Last week’s column discussed the cost of the required caddie, a major piece of the total outlay.

This week’s column outlines some other tour expenses, in addition to the modest $200 entry fee for each LPGA tournament.

Travel is another major item. LPGA player Jackie Stoelting said rental cars are usually $300 per week, but at some locations can cost $600 to $700. 

Stoelting then discussed her air flight arrangements. Because she's exempt, she can plan her schedule and book flights well in advance. "Tuesdays are a good booking time," she said. "I try to set them up one to two months in advance and save on fares."

She saves more money by not switching flights if she misses the cut. Stoelting credited Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, who advised her never to schedule an early Sunday flight, leading to an unspoken mental expectation that she wouldn’t make the cut. Instead, "If I miss the cut, I practice or go see the town," she said.

Stoelting and other LPGA players also save significant money by using free housing opportunities at most of their events. "I'll bet at least 80 to 90 percent of the girls do that, and most of the time, the housing can include a husband, or mom or dad, or partner," she said. "That's absolutely the best way to save." She also said these host families often become supporters. "They follow your progress, which is great," she said.

At most LPGA tournaments, breakfast and lunch are provided by the event for players and caddies, which is a big help. Dinners often come with the housing. Stoelting said diplomacy is sometimes needed to avoid being overstuffed by eager hosts.

Free housing is not always available, such as during the season-opening tournament in the Bahamas. Stoelting said tournament-affiliated hotels offer a reduced rate, but that can still run $200 per night.

The LPGA tournament pro-ams are not paid. However, Stoelting readily acknowledges these outings provide a large part of the tournament purse. She’s fine with that, and recognizes the other benefits. "These pro-ams can give you great networking or sponsorship opportunities," she said.  

For other pro-ams, however, she can currently earn $1,100 or more. As her playing record improves, those fees can increase, but in any event they help offset the cost of touring. "You just have to balance the time for those other pro-ams with your need to rest and prepare for the next event," Stoelting said. 

Taxes are another expense, with many states eager to take their slice from the touring pros for the week or two they may be playing there. "My CPA is spelled D-A-D," she laughed. Ed Barenborg, her father, is an accountant, and he helps his daughter with the tax issues and with occasional negotiations for other income opportunities. 

Stoelting does not use an agent, instead making her own deals. She has a few sponsorships, notably with Ping, Titleist, and 2GG Apparel, whose clothes she wears. Stoelting likes the fact that 2GG owner, former MLB ballplayer Russ Ortiz, donates all company profits to charity.

The Ping and Titleist deals include set fees with incentive bonuses, and free equipment such as bags, balls, clubs and shoes. Stoelting's Ping staff bag is filled with Ping clubs; her custom color shoes are My-Joys, and she plays a Titleist golf ball. 

Knowing the cost of touring brings a different perspective to reading the LPGA money list, one that should be kept in mind especially by those aspiring to a career on the tour. 

The tour can be an exciting life, with much to recommend it, but there are no guarantees of a big bank account when that career ends. 

Delaware Women's Amateur

This year's Delaware Women's Amateur Championship took place June 14-15 at Heritage Shores Golf Club. Archmere High student Phoebe Brinker won the overall championship with a two-under par 142. She also took second at the 2017 state high school championship.

Britny Whitby of Rehoboth Beach Country Club won the championship flight, with Hannah Lydic of Bear Trap Dunes in second.

Sue Bennet of Cripple Creek Country Club won the competitors first flight, and Sherry Pié of Kings Creek Country Club won the competitors' third flight.

Local club competition results

The Sussex Pines Ladies 18-Hole golf group played a better ball of four team game June 20.

Reta Rose Frampton, Dawn Slacum, Debbie Quinn and Linda Townsend won first place, with Barbara Willin, Terry Daisey, Susan Brady and Carol Love taking second. 

The Kings Creek CC Ladies 9-hole group played a Criers game June 14. This format replaces the four worst scores with pars minus handicaps, with no tie-breakers. 

Judy Pezone and Janie O'Connor won first place, with third going to Valerie Evans and Kathy Nave.

The Sussex Pines Ladies 18-Hole group held its Member/Guest tournament June 12, using a team net and gross format. 

Brenda Lewes, Doreen Clark, Susan Brady and Debbie Corrado won first-place gross, followed by Sandy Harrison, Simone Harrison, Fay Slatcher and Hazel Pusey in second.

Debbie Quinn, Joanne Griffith, Linda Townsend and Joane Zorb won first-place net, with Carol Love, Kathy Hudak, Peggy  Clausen and Pat Short finishing second.