Image: Clutch Pro Tour
Clutch Pro Tour and Modest! Golf, the golf management company owned by former One Direction member Niall Horan, have joined forces to create a mini tour of events for developing male and female British golfers.
Uniting European Tour and Ladies European Tour players on a split field, the Clutch Pro Tour offers equal prize money to all participants.
Of course, creating opportunities for female golfers is one of the hottest topics in the sporting world at the moment, but founder Tom Hayward is keen to stress that the Clutch Pro Tour isn't just jumping on the bandwagon.
"From the start we wanted it to be a fully inclusive tour, including female and disabled golfers," he said.
"I'm not going to lie, I knew there was a calling for more opportunities in the women's game, so we haven't pushed that angle too much for that very reason or play on it too much like other tours have.
"But I do think it's important because whether you are a male or female pro you still invest the same amount of time and finances into the game, so of course you deserve the same opportunities."
As a former professional golfer who played on a number of mini tours for developing players, Hayward was always frustrated by the fact that no other tours allowed women to take part.
"I never understood why, when some of the other men's tours provide such a great platform and brilliant exposure, women were never included," he said.
"Or, if they were allowed to play then it was for a lot less money than the lads and it wasn't worth it for them.
"So we decided that if we were going to create an event for everyone, then everyone should have the chance of winning the same money."
Taking in well-respected and Top 100 standard courses, one of the highlights of the tour is the Open Access Masters at Sunningdale Heath on July 8.
If you've seen the promotional material for this then you'll know that poster girls Dame Laura Davies and Meghan MacLaren are set to take part, and Amy Bouldon, Annabel Dimmock, Rachel Drummond and Gabrielle Cowley are also signed up.
Hayward thinks including women in the events adds to the fun; an opinion which unfortunately isn't shared by some of the more narrow-minded golf fans.
"It adds to the event having a bigger range of people there and not just the blokes," he said.
Image: Getty Images
"We have 24 women signed up for Sunningdale so far including some really good players. We're going there specifically because it's a quirky little golf course with shorter distances and we're hoping that closes the gap as it's not just about how far you hit it.
"We want to showcase the skill of the game, not just the raw power that it is so often about.
"Most of all I'm really hoping we will have a female winner at one of these events, that's what it needs."
The women are playing off shorter tees, and the team had some famous figures advising them about how to set it up and make it fair.
"Dame Laura Davies and Trish Johnson have been fantastic getting behind it," said Hayward.
"They put their names down really early on and have given us a lot of advice. I'm really excited about what we will do going forward."
One challenge will be dispelling any myths that women's golf is less entertaining to watch than the men's game.
"If all you're seeing on TV is men's golf or men's football and not women then there's always a tendency to criticise women's sport when it's on as it's simply not what you're used to seeing.
"On the whole I think golf is boring to watch on TV so we're working with a couple of broadcasters to see how we can shake it up and shoot it in a different way."
As a tour partner, Modest! Golf has been working hard behind the scenes to promote the event.
"Modest are a family-orientated company and the key thing for me is they are in it for the right reasons," he said.
"It's a nice match for us and they are on the verge of signing another female golfer right now."
The tour is split into Classic events (a smaller entry fee for a smaller prize) and Major events (a bigger buy in but a more exclusive experience, including the chance to compete for £10k).
Like us, Hayward is hopeful that this new support for women's golf will continue.
"I don't think people appreciate what goes into women's golf and I think there should be more of a light shined on it. I really admire what Chris Hanson has done with the 2020protour, they've done a great job and it's gone really well.
"Of course the Rose Ladies Series is great too and I just hope this pattern continues."
For more information on the Clutch Pro Tour visit www.clutchprotour.co.uk.
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