Spotlight on a Major Week for Women's Golf
Guest Post by Emma Ballard of Medi8
The Masters is now only a week away, we’re all consumed by it and cannot wait for the official first Major of the year. Will Tiger dominate and claim his fifth green jacket? Will Rory complete his career grand slam? Regardless, there really is nothing quite like The Masters and Augusta National.
For many golf fans, The Masters signifies the start to the golfing season, we dust off our clubs from their winter slumber and enthusiastically head to the golf course in the hope that we don’t look too much like a hacker, we try and remember how to get the perfect shoulder turn and get a feel for how to read greens again.
In all the hype and excitement of The Masters and the season starting, the week before can often go unnoticed. We’ve all got Masters fever! With that being said, I have a feeling that this year may be different.
So, what is happening this week and why should we be watching?
Top billing this week should be the ANA Inspiration, a Major tournament that often flies under the radar here in the UK. In the event’s entire history, even before it was a Major, there has never been a British winner, though I’m not saying this is the reason that many don’t watch it. The tournament struggles with a combination of issues, the inherent lack of interest in women’s golf, clashing with The Masters build up and a eight hour time difference does little to engage the hardcore or casual golf viewer in the UK.
With all that being said, the tournament itself is steeped in tradition having been held at Mission Hills Country Club in California since 1972, becoming a Major Championship in 1983. Some players liken it to a women’s version of Augusta National, as they revisit the same location each year, with the winner plunging into the iconic Poppie’s Pond, which makes the signature white robe all important. After the highs of watching Georgia Hall win her first Major last summer, hopefully this will garner some more interest in the women’s Major tournaments this year. A British winner would be ideal but we should be watching for the excitement and often controversy that the women’s majors always seem to throw up.
For more, see our ANA Inspiration Preview.
Jordan Mixed Open
This is set to be a really interesting event, a completely new concept that hasn’t been tried before. Three tours all competing on the same course for the same prize fund – seasoned Tour pros like Philip Price teeing it up alongside young gun, 18 year old, Minkyu Kim and some husband and wife rivalry with Kylie and Scott Henry competing. It’s the season opener for the Challenge and Staysure Tours, so I’m personally hoping that the Ladies European Tour pros will have the edge with some already having five or more tournaments under their belts with Diksha Dagar, Meghan MacLaren and Marianne Skarpnord already winners this year.
The hot topic will be around equality. In fact the issues around equality have been talked about a lot all ready this year. I’m hopeful that the focus won’t just be on the difference in driving distances and more around how golf, a game that can be played by every generation, is embracing the idea of showcasing the sport on the highest stage. A point that shouldn’t go unmissed at club level, as golf clubs strive for more members and equality. If successful, this tournament paves the way for similar events, which can only be a good thing for golf.
For more on the Jordan Mixed Open, click here.
Augusta National Women’s Amateur
Finally, for all those that cannot think about anything but The Masters, then this week you’ll be wanting to take a look at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, we’ll get our first glimpses of the lush green fairways and manicured greens! An Amateur Championship would barely resonate amongst golf fans but a final round at Augusta National has peaked people’s interest. For the thirty elite amateurs that make the cut into the final round, it is likely to be a surreal moment in their playing careers. Lily May Humphries, Alice Hewson and Olivia Mehaffey will be flying the GB and Ireland flags.
To me it seems a little poor form to schedule this event at the same time as the ANA Inspiration but it’s a big step forward for Augusta National and has been seen by many as another attempt to show their intention to inspire interest and participation in golf.
One way or another it’s set to be a great week to showcase women’s golf and challenge the norms by trying new ideas, which will hopefully create interesting discussion amongst golf fans. Tradition is an integral part of golf so maybe just this week we take a step outside our comfort zone. But if you really are a traditionalist at heart and none of these events really float your boat, then you can always tune into the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open.
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