For the first time ever, women are competing for the same prize fund as the men at this week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open, but have they thrown away their chance to share the spotlight?
By Charlotte Ibbetson
The ISPS Handa Vic Open will see men and women compete on the same course, at the same time, for the same money this weekend. It’s a monumental step towards equality in golf, so surely the women of the LPGA Tour have jumped at the chance to support such a pioneering concept? Well, sadly no, they haven’t.
The tournament makes its debut on Thursday as one of the most unique, forward-thinking events on both the men and ladies' tours. Both male and female professional golfers will head Down Under to compete at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads, Victoria.
There will be a separate championship for the men - co-sanctioned by the European Tour and ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, and a championship for the women - co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the ALPGA Tour. All four rounds will be played in alternating men’s and women’s tee times, and there’ll be cuts after 36 and 54 holes. The leading 35 golfers in each field will then battle it out for equal purses of AUD $1.5 million.
“Finally!” we hear you scream - we’re addressing the embarrassing disparity between men and women’s golf and giving women the opportunity to earn the same as men.
Well, that was my first thought too, and when I read about the Vic Open, my next thought was “what an incredible show of golf we’re all in for.” Surely the women of the LPGA Tour will be jumping at the chance to compete? We’re going to watch the best of the best in what will be one of the most historic moments in golf to date.
But then I read on and was left utterly disappointed.
England’s Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and Oz’s Minjee Lee are the only players to have entered from the LPGA’s top 50.
Why are they missing the opportunity to finally share the spotlight? The 1.1 million prize fund is the smallest of the LPGA Tour season, but even so. Women have been extended an olive branch in a sport where time and time again they are overlooked, yet it might well have been snapped in half. It's even more frustrating for many Ladies European Tour players who would have bitten someone's arm off to compete in an event that until this year was on the LET schedule.
There’s such a long way to go for the women’s game, but women need to get behind it before anyone else will.