Is There a 'Battlefield Promotion' for the LPGA Tour?

In golf, the term "battlefield promotion" refers to a golfer winning enough on a lower-level tour that he or she automatically gets promoted to a higher tour. The PGA Tour has such an arrangement with its developmental tour. Does the LPGA Tour? Can a golfer get onto the LPGA Tour through a "battlefield promotion"?

No. The answer to that question is no: the battlefield promotion does not exist as a way to become an LPGA Tour member. But it once did! Before we talk about why the LPGA discontinued it, let's explain a bit more about the battlefield promotion.

The term "battlefield promotion" comes from one method golfers on the PGA Tour's developmental circuit have for becoming PGA Tour members. If a golfer on the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly called the Nationwide Tour and Nike Tour, among other names) wins three times in a single season, then that golfer is, following his third win, automatically promoted to the PGA Tour.

It's a well-known thing among PGA Tour fans. The tour itself refers to it as a "three-win promotion" or "three-victory promotion." Over the years, multiple golfers have become PGA Tour members by winning three times in a single season on the developmental tour.

So that's what the battlefield promotion is. Now: Why does the LPGA Tour no longer use it?

In the LPGA's case, its developmental tour is, as of this writing, named the Epson Tour (previous names include Futures Tour and Symetra Tour). That tour, for many years, had only a licensing agreement with the LPGA. In 2007, the LPGA took over ownership of the Epson Tour (then called the Futures Tour).

When the LPGA became owner of the Epson Tour, it added the battlefield promotion. But it took a couple years; it was only around 2009 that a golfer winning three times on the lower circuit began receiving automatic promotion to the LPGA Tour.

But the LPGA Tour decided, after the 2018 season, to discontinue the battlefield promotion.

Why? That was explained by Epson Tour commissioner Mike Nichols in a tweet he sent on August 21, 2021. Nichols, in reply to a question from another tweeter about the battlefield promotion, wrote:

"We eliminated this promotion a couple of years ago as players earned it but their status rarely got them into LPGA tournaments. It felt like a false promise."
To understand what Nichols was talking about when he said "but their status rarely got them into LPGA Tournaments," let's go back to 2010. An Associated Press article noted that Ryann O'Toole and Christine Song had two wins each on the then-named Futures Tour, and that winning a third would get them promoted to the LPGA Tour. But, the article pointed out, O'Toole wasn't sure she would go — she might prefer to keep playing on the Futures Tour and ensure a top money-list finish.

The reason was the exemption category that the LPGA gave to a battlefield-promoted golfer. A golfer who earned the three-win promotion was given Category 13 Status on the LPGA Tour. That number reveals the issue: there were 12 other exemption categories higher, which meant a golfer with Category 13 status was far down the list of players who might get into an LPGA Tour event.

Simply put, the battlefield promotion to the LPGA Tour just wasn't worth much to the golfers who earned it. If they remained on the lower tour and kept earning money, they would receive higher LPGA status for the following year by finishing in the Top 5 (later Top 10) on the Epson Tour money list.

So, after the 2018 season, the LPGA decided to simply do away with the three-win promotion.

While it existed, multiple golfers did, indeed, win at least three tournaments in a single season on the lower tour. Those included Mina Harigae, Cindy LaCrosse, Marissa Steen, Annie Park, Madelene Sagstrom, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Hannah Green and Ruixin Liu.

But the battlefield promotion today no longer exists as a path to the LPGA Tour.

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