ORLANDO, Florida – Gemma Dryburgh broke through in Japan last fall to claim her first LPGA victory and qualify for this week’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. There’s something noticeably different, however, about her look this week: She’s wearing a blank hat.
“I guess it’s a message that it’s open,” said Dryburgh, of the blank billboard on her head.
When Scotland’s Dryburgh, 29, earned her LPGA card for the 2018 season, the rookie asked Callaway for some hats. She’d been playing Callaway clubs since high school but hadn’t actually signed with the company. She was wearing their hat for free.
“I didn’t mind supporting them,” she explained, “and they support me a lot with clubs. But I think it’s time to get paid for the hat.”
Dryburgh said her agent is currently in talks with one potential sponsor. While the value of a player’s hat varies greatly, Dryburgh estimates she’s looking at north of $20,000.
“It’s so nice to be able to actually have expenses maybe covered before the season starts,” she said of a luxury she has yet to experience in her career thus far, and she’s not quite there yet either.
Mel Reid is feeling a little less pressure after finishing third at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. (Gabe Roux/LPGA)
Dryburgh is hardly the first, of course, to be in the market for a hat sponsor. Veteran Solheim Cup player Mel Reid wore a blank hat at big events in the summer of 2019. Meg Mallon won the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open wearing a USGA hat.
Dryburgh won the 2022 Toto Japan Classic last year by four strokes and finished 34th on the CME points list and 45th on the money list with $662,000. That’s more than three times what she’d earned in her previous four seasons on tour combined.