“My goodness, where did this forward thinking come from?” Find out why Women & Golf columnist Naga Munchetty thinks the penny has finally dropped in the world of golf.
By Charlotte Ibbetson
In a world-first for amateur golf, Berkhamsted Golf Club announced last month that the prestigious Berkhamsted Trophy will now be open to both men and women. With the backing of The R&A and England Golf, the tournament – which will be in its 61st year – will see both sexes compete for the same prize money, as well as World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) points.
“I often champion playing mixed golf, and I can’t actually remember the last game I played when a man wasn’t in my fourball. But it now seems that a renowned men’s amateur event has been transformed and is going to be ... whisper it now, MIXED!” writes Naga Munchetty.
“Has the penny dropped for the amateur golfing world?”
I’ve written a lot about mixed golf over the past few months, and as much as the winds of change have been blowing on the professional circuit for some time, it’s definitely taken the amateur game a while to catch up. My biggest issue with mixed golf is that I don’t think we’ve ever really found the right formula – a way for men and women to truly compete fairly. We’re forever battling with where to tee off from and how many shots to get, and that’s before you start to think about competing for the same prize.
But thanks to a flexible tee system at the Berkhamsted Trophy, both men and women will finally compete on equal footing – or as equal as it can be in the first event of its kind.
“The 61st tournament has moved into the 21st century and it’s doing so with fair rules on a fabulous course in Hertfordshire … none of this all playing off the same tees nonsense.”
With the support of Elaine Ratcliffe, Captain of the 2020 GB&I Curtis Cup team, the plan for the event is to invite around ten elite amateur women to compete. The idea is that this will smooth the transition into a mixed event, before fully opening the field in years to come. With such a long history and the eyes of the world on the event, Berkhamsted is, for obvious reasons, keen to get it right first time. Do I think it’s a bit of a conservative move? Yes, but ultimately I think it’s fair, and if it sets the event up for success in the future then I’m all for it.
“I was heartened to see the Captain of Berkhamsted, Henry Tse quoted as saying, “it is unsustainable, in the long-term, for golf to continue to keep men and women apart like it has historically done. Too right.”
“Maybe, just maybe, the sentiment will creep further afield to other golfers’ psyches.”
Here’s hoping Naga. If this event inspires just a handful of golf clubs to change the way they ‘do’ mixed golf, then the golfing world will be a much better place for it. We've already heard about the new Mixed Open at Royal Blackheath Golf Club, which is believed to be the first mixed amateur handicap singles competition in the UK. There, men and women will compete, with their handicaps, on the same course, for the same prize money, at the same time. Could this be the start of the butterfly effect?
You can read Naga Munchetty’s full article in the latest issue of Women & Golf magazine. Subscribe now to read the full feature and enjoy W&G delivered to your door!