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Golf Australia Express : OTG Express 143
THERE were plenty of women in the galleries at Augusta National for the Masters earlier this month and – at long last – three of them are now wearing member’s green jackets. Walking the fairways, however, I wondered how many of them were thinking what I was: wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Masters Tournament for women? At least one high-profile LPGA player has the same desire. Paula Creamer recently voiced her opinion that a Masters for women would be a meaningful and dramatic step forward in growing women’s golf. After the learnings acquired by the USGA last June during its two US Opens in a fortnight, the opportunity to go back-to-back at Augusta appears more viable than ever. “It’s an idea,” Creamer said. “I don’t think that people should be ashamed to talk about it. I would like to know truthfully why we wouldn’t be able to have a tournament there. Women’s golf definitely deserves something like that.” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne was asked at the Masters about the concept – and not for the first time. He cited the club’s short playing season and preparation requirements as the primary concerns. “We have a very short member season at Augusta National. It’s seven months only,” Payne said. “The time that we dedicate to the preparation and conduct of the tournament is already extensive. I don’t think that we would ever host another tournament.” Legitimate stumbling blocks, yes, but not insurmountable hurdles. These logistical concerns aside, if Augusta wanted to welcome the world’s best female players, it could find a way. But does the club want to? LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said last week he asks Payne and the Augusta hierarchy on an annual basis, but the answer is always a polite no. “I don’t think they would probably call us and talk about an annual event," Whan said. "They’d tell us if it ever happened, it’d be a one-time event. That’s why logistically it wouldn’t be challenging for us.” “They want to grow the game so badly,” adds Creamer. “That’s what it is about, growing the game and giving people opportunities. The [Drive] Chip and Putt, all of that for the kids to be able to come out there ... there is no reason we can’t do that for women’s golf as well. We’re just as much a part of growing the game. “I’ve been there, played there, stayed in Butler Cabin. I had an awesome time. I think the patrons and everybody would love to have two weeks there, two tournaments. Why wouldn’t you?” I once asked Rachel Hetherington whether she wished there was an LPGA tournament at Augusta National. She diplomatically said they already have a Masters-like tournament and venue that the men’s tours don’t visit at Evian- les-Bains in France, the now ‘majored’ Evian Championship. But one wonders how many female pros don’t secretly wish they could experience what their male counterparts do each April. OTG the VIEW IT'S TIME FOR TWO MASTERS IF AUGUSTA NATIONAL TRULY WANTS TO BE SEEN AS INCLUSIVE, A MASTERS FOR THE WORLD’S BEST FEMALES IS THE CLUB’S NEXT MOVE. by Steve Keipert Golf Australia deputy editor POWER VAMP Increased stability and support DESIGNED TO BE THE COOLEST SHOE IN GOLF SHAPELOCK WITH OUTLAST® Locks in your foot and keeps it cool. STEALTH CLEAT Low-profile traction control POWER FRAME Ultra-thin TPU provides lightweight strength and support.
OTG Express 142
OTG Express 144