How will hosting the AIG Women’s Open at the historic Muirfield shape the future of women’s golf? Spoiler: It's big.
Tell any golfer you’re heading up to Muirfield and their response will undoubtedly be one of complete envy. I know, because that’s the exact response I got when I was planning my trip up to the East Lothian Club for the media day ahead of the AIG Women’s Open in August.
A place of legends
Since 1982, Muirfield has played an integral role in Championship golf. It’s hosted 42 national and international tournaments, including 16 Open Championships, the Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup. And it’s home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers – one of the oldest golfing societies in the world.
Legends have been born here. Traditions made. History books have been written.
But Muirfield has a controversial past.
The club caused a stir for all the wrong reasons back in 2016 when members voted against allowing women to join the club.
It caused uproar across the industry and the club were banned from hosting the Open Championship. But there was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a U-turn on that decision a year later.
So finally, in 2019, Muirfield opened its doors to its first-ever female members.
A positive step for women’s golf
There’s no hiding from it; Muirfield has a shady past when it comes to equality for women in golf.
But this isn’t a time to get on your soap box.
Holding the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield is a really positive step for women’s golf. The women’s game and female professionals deserve to perform on the same stage as the men. And there aren’t many better stages in golf than Muirfield.
Hosting the tournament at a world-renowned club can only act to open women’s golf to an even wider audience. Which can only be a good thing for the future of the game.
Zoe Ridgway, Tournament Director – AIG Women’s Open at The R&A, told us: “Along with our partners at AIG, we have a real ambition to grow the AIG Women’s Open. We are creating a world-class championship, for the world’s best players and as such, we need to provide them with the best golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland to compete on.
"Muirfield is certainly one of these and it will be a historic moment when the women tee off on the famed layout for the first time. That is a moment which we hope becomes iconic for golf and encourages more women and girls into the sport.”
A new legacy
The AIG Women’s Open might just be a few days, but it has a longer-lasting legacy.
“We [The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers] hope to make an important contribution to a brilliant Championship that will inspire future generations of women golfers of all ages.
"The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is keen to ensure that it provides a platform for women and girls to enjoy golf and ensure that the joy of the sport is available to all. By welcoming the very best of women’s golf, we are providing a pathway for the future generations to watch, enjoy and be inspired to partake in the game.”
Zoe added, “the AIG Women’s Open is the showpiece of The R&A’s commitment to women’s golf but it goes well beyond just this one week.”
“We are committed to establishing a more inclusive culture within golf by increasing the number of women and girls involved in the golf industry at every level – more playing, more volunteering, more working.
“As part of this commitment, The R&A established the Women in Golf Charter in 2018 which provides the impetus for change in the industry. There are close to 1,000 Charter signatories worldwide, including golf clubs and venues, federations and industry organisations.
“Another facet of this commitment is the Women in Golf Leadership programme which enables women working in the industry to benefit from gaining the skills, knowledge and expertise to progress their career and go on to enjoy working at more senior levels of the sport. We have already seen women who have participated in the first two rounds of the programme secure higher positions.”
The golf course
So, what can we expect from the golf course during the championship?
“The course will play as a par 71 at approximately 6,680 yards”, Zoe tells us. “The players can expect a classic link challenge. But the real test will come from the wind and weather. No two consecutive holes run in exactly the same direction, so the players will have to adjust to the wind on each hole.
“The set-up will display Muirfield at its finest whilst also provide some room for flexibility on tees and pin positions. For instance. it is likely that the tees will be moved forward on the 17th on Sunday to make it a reachable par-five.”
After watching Minjee Lee dominate at the U.S. Women’s Open last week, we can’t wait to see what drama will unfold at the final Major of the year in August.
It’s going to be good.
Looking for more tour news? Look no further. Read the latest results and get the inside scoop from across the LET and LPGA Tours. Show me more.