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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 283
AUGUSTA’S FEMALE EVENT A POSITIVE STEP BUT ... T here has been almost universal praise for Augusta National since new Chairman Fred Ridley announced in his pre-Masters press conference the launch of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship. To be played from 2019, the 54-hole, 72 player event immediately became one of the most coveted invites in the women’s amateur game. But scratch the surface of what Augusta National is proposing to do next year and the initial enthusiasm felt by many, me included, may start to wear off. Let me preface what’s about to follow by saying that I, like most in golf, believe this is a positive first step. I have long held the view that Augusta National is in a unique position to do something much more important for the women’s game than any other entity simply by hosting a tournament*. This event, however, is not that tournament (though it may hopefully one day be a catalyst for it). Firstly, only one of the three rounds of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship will be played at the famed Georgia layout and that only for the top 30 who make the cut. That smacks a little of tokenism (here, have a third of the tournament at our course but only for less than half of the field) but even worse is the dates Augusta has announced. As most will know, though few seem bothered by, the event will clash with the first women’s major of the year as the final round will be played Saturday of the ANA Inspiration. Traditionally, that tournament has invited six or seven of the world’s top women amateurs to take part and what is abundantly clear already is that most, if not all, those players will also be eligible for the Augusta event. Leaving aside the attention the amateur tournament will draw away from the ANA, the position those players now find themselves in is ‘difficult’ at best. Equally, Augusta National has put unnecessary pressure on the LPGA who, while they no doubt understand the benefit of the world’s most famous club hosting top level women players, could well have done without the headaches the chosen dates will cause. Many have suggested the ANA should simply move to accommodate the new event but that hardly takes into account the logistics involved. Leaving aside the arrogance of expecting a women’s Major to bow to the whims of Augusta National, shifting a tournament date – a major no less – is a little more complex than simply changing some flight and hotel bookings. Ultimately, it seems Ridley and Augusta National see the importance of embracing the women’s game and that is a positive which they should be applauded for. But the way they have gone about it with this event is far more disruptive than it needed to be and one can’t help but wonder if Ridley (pictured above) didn’t rush unnecessarily to make the announcement at the cost of getting it right. Augusta National is not generally in the habit of doing things less than perfectly which is what makes this situation so disappointing. No doubt it will be sorted, hopefully sooner than later, but for the moment it’s a thumbs down from this writer. *Until they announce the launch of the Women’s Masters, of course. Now THAT would be doing something for the game! VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen.
GA Express 282
GA Express Corporate Special 01