The 2008 Ladies European Tour (LET) season recommences this week with the €300,000 VCI European Ladies Golf Cup at La Sella Golf Resort in Alicante, Spain.
The inaugural 20 team event is the first tournament of the year on European soil and the first of six new tournaments in 2008.
The other new events are the Garanti American Express Turkish Open, HypoVereinsbank Ladies’ German Open presented by Audi, AIB Ladies Irish Open, Göteberg Masters in Sweden and Korean Ladies Masters.
This year the LET schedule features an unprecedented 29 events. It also boasts total prize money in excess of €12.6 million, which is the highest in the organisation’s 30-year history.
The Ladies European Tour has seen immense growth over the last few years and this is clear to see in the 2008 schedule, which shows more than 100 percent growth since 2003, when there were 14 tournaments. The Tour now boasts events in 22 different countries with new destinations being added each year.
Since 1995 there has been more than a 400 percent increase in the prize money. In addition to the growth in the number of events and the total prize money, the media coverage has also increased.
Compared with just 13 one hour highlights shows being televised in 2003, there are now 29 one hour highlights packages showing LET footage produced throughout the season and these are broadcast to more than 240 million homes worldwide in approximately 80 countries. Each programme receives approximately 40 hours of coverage worldwide.
European broadcasters televising LET tournaments include BSkyB in the UK and Ireland, Urheilukanava in Finland, Sport TV in Portugal, Canal Plus in France and Sky Italia in Italy.
In addition, the LET’s highlights are shown by a number of different broadcasters in Asia Pacific and Africa. ESPN, a pan Asian channel, has just signed a three year agreement to show LET footage to 70 million homes from 2008-2011. Meanwhile, the Korean broadcaster JGolf has re-signed a four year agreement to show LET highlights from 2008-2011 and will also produce live television coverage for the Korean Ladies Masters.
In 2008, at least seven LET tournaments will be broadcast on the evening of play. Events which will produce nightly highlights are the VCI Ladies European Golf Cup, Garanti American Express Turkish Open, Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open, Tenerife Ladies Open, The Oxfordshire Ladies English Open, AIB Ladies Irish Open and EMAAR-MGF Ladies Masters in India.
There will be live coverage from at least seven LET events: the Women’s World Cup in South Africa, the MFS Women’s Australian Open, ANZ Ladies Masters, Evian Masters, Ricoh Women’s British Open, Korean and Dubai Ladies Masters.
Elsewhere, the Ladies European Tour’s website traffic also continues to grow. The website, www.ladieseuropeantour.com, received over 170 million hits and 700,000 unique users last year. In 2007 there was a 39 percent growth in users from the figure recorded in 2006. During September 2007, the site peaked with 108,000 unique users. The site has approximately 30,000 new visitors each month and hits have gone up to over 15 million per month demonstrating the increasing popularity of the Tour.
In 2008 the LET celebrates its 30th anniversary with events on four continents (Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania) and 319 members representing 34 countries from as far afield as Columbia, Iceland, Malawi and the Slovak Republic!