In April 2019, the world’s best female amateur golfers head to Augusta National, and without sounding too melodramatic, the golfing landscape may never look quite the same again.
Words: Becky Gee
Oh, how we would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for discussions between Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley and his more conservative membership, about the possibility of welcoming a group of women to compete at the prestigious venue in the week before the Masters.
Perhaps each welcomed the move with open arms, mirroring Ridley’s admirable call to grow the game, or maybe, just maybe, there were a couple of Muirfield-esque letters questioning if the event had the potential to play havoc with their lunch plans and expressing concern over whether the women would finish in time for Tiger to make his Thursday tee time.
Whatever happened behind closed doors, one thing is for sure, Ridley’s forward-thinking approach prevailed, because come April 2019, thirty of the world’s best female amateurs will do exactly that, and without meaning to sound too melodramatic, the golfing landscape may never look quite the same again.
When the announcement came it reverberated around Amen corner, flattened the Azaleas and ruffled up the green jackets, before landing with the force of a perfectly struck Bubba Watson drive at the feet of an unexpecting golfing public. Augusta National, a club almost as synonymous with elitism and sexism as it is with hosting the world’s most famous golf tournament, had just provided the impetus behind one of the most exciting and important initiatives for women’s golf in the modern era.
And, oh, how we are excited.
To appreciate just how significant, and frankly surprising, the move is, it’s worth casting an eye back over Augusta National’s chequered history with the women’s game.
This is a venue that exactly fifteen years ago stonewalled Martha Burke’s campaign to accept female members, despite sponsors and a significant proportion of the golfing public siding with her cause, saying it would not be caved at the ‘point of a bayonet.’ A venue that then refused for ten years to bow to pressure for reform before finally changing the narrative six years ago, when the storm had calmed, and they could open the doors to women on their own terms.
A venue which boasting just four female members, is not exactly today’s shining light of diversity.
Admittedly the small print makes for slightly less compelling reading than the headline itself. The first two rounds won’t be staged at Augusta National but instead at a nearby venue Champions Gate, from which the top-30 players will then proceed to the iconic club for the final round, slated to take place on the Saturday before the Masters.
For those who make the cut, the experience of a lifetime awaits. Ridley has promised that the players will be treated to the same first-class treatment bestowed on the participants at the Masters. Incentive surely for some of the leading youngsters to bide their time and make the most of their amateur, and potentially college careers, rather than jump the gun and rush their transition into the pro ranks.
Hold My Purse! Troy Mullins Pulls Hilarious Prank READ MORE