Golf Saudi inquiry caused postponement of last year's LPGA/LET merger vote
On Nov. 21, a much-anticipated vote by the Ladies European Tour membership on a proposal that would have merged the tour’s operations with the LPGA was hastily postponed hours before it was to happen. At the time, LET and LPGA officials said the delay was “based on additional information” but offered no further details.
Two months later, some of those details have emerged. In a memo sent to LPGA members, first reported by Golfweek and a copy of which has been obtained by Golf Digest, commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan explained that close to the meeting the LET received notice from Golf Saudi asking for more information regarding the merger's terms.
"As a significant partner of the LET, Golf Saudi wanted to ensure that they fully understood any risks, implications, and opportunities for the Armco Saudi Ladies International and Armco Team Series before finalizing their commitment to the events in 2024," Marcoux Samaan wrote. "Based on this communication, the LET Board decided to pause the vote and the meeting was adjourned. The LPGA Board supported that decision."
Marcoux Samaan noted that since the vote’s postponement, communication with Golf Saudi has been “constructive,” citing their confirmation in December of the Aramco Team Series and Saudi Ladies International taking place again in 2024. The Aramco events comprise $10 million of the LET’s roughly $43 million season purse.
Marcoux Samaan offer no additional information, however, as to if or when the LET players might move forward on a vote regarding the proposed merger. Instead, she explained that the LPGA and LET plan to continue to "maximize" the joint venture partnership they entered into in 2019, affirming a commitment to grow both tours.
The LET has experienced rapid growth since the start of the joint venture. In 2018, the final full season before the partnership, the LET hosted 15 tournaments for a total purse of €11.5 million. Since then, both the purse size and the number of events have grown more than 100 percent, with 31 events this year.
"We will continue to work aggressively on elevating the LPGA Tour, the LET Tour and the Epson Tour athletes, and providing clear pathways and opportunities for the best players from around the world," Marcoux Samaan wrote.
As Golf Digest previously reported, the proposed merger would have allowed for the two tours to continue operating much like they did in 2023 for an initial three-year period. The LET would retain its name and maintain its own tournament schedule independent of the LPGA Tour, with a handful of co-sanctioned events continuing to be operated during the year. The LET would maintain a headquarters in Europe.
Moving forward, the two would work jointly in oversight of the LET and in developing revenue opportunities that could be mutually beneficial to all. The LPGA intended to pursue enhanced commercial opportunities with existing and new tour sponsors.