GET INTO GOLF: Big weekend for women’s golf
Most of what we discuss on a weekly basis is related to game improvement or current events. Of course a significant number of these events are tied to the men’s regular PGA Tour due to television coverage. We have a better chance of relating to something if we can see it.
This week, however, is a great weekend for women’s golf. First, we have the ANA Inspiration golf championship in Rancho Mirage. Formerly known as the “Dinah Shore,” as it was sponsored by the late singer and played at the golf course with her name, this is the LPGA’s spring major tournament.
Next, and perhaps more notably, a field of top female amateurs will tee it up at the Augusta National Golf Club. Yes, you read that right. Augusta National is hosting a new event specifically for women.
For those new to the game, Augusta National is one of the top golf properties in the world. It was developed by Bobby Jones, one of the best players ever, who remained an amateur for his entire career. As a result, the club has historically been an ardent advocate of amateur golf.
The private golf course is home to the Master’s Tournament, a men’s professional major. In keeping with the support of amateurs, invitations are sent to top male amateurs to participate in the Master’s.
Meticulously manicured, it might be the best televised event each year and many of the top players would consider a win at Augusta National to be the crowing moment of their career.
Yet, it has has received a number of criticisms. One of these being male exclusivity.
Founded in 1932, it was not until 2012 that the club invited a woman to join. Former Secretary of State and avid golfer, Condoleeza Rice became the first female member.
Last year, the club announced the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur tournament. Certain amateur event winners and others from the World Amateur Golf Rankings comprise a field of 72 players. After a 36-hole cut, the top 30 players advance to a final round at Augusta today.
The timing is a little unfortunate in that a number of the top amateurs are playing in the ANA Inspiration championship. This creates a tough choice for any player.
It is an honor and challenge for a promising amateur to play in a professional major. You get to see how your skills measure up and gain the experience of playing with the world’s best.
However, the number of players in the world who have taken a lap at Augusta National is a fraction of a fraction. So, does one play in the event that will probably be the best for your career? This would likely be the opportunity to be with the professionals in Rancho Mirage.
Or, do you head to Georgia and play in the amateur event? Realistically, this could be a once in a lifetime shot.
Candidly, my advice would be to take the trip to Augusta. If you’re an elite player, you’ll get another shot at the ANA Inspiration. And if you’re dreams are not fulfilled as a player, at least you’ll be one of the few who have played a round at one of the great tracks on the planet.
Nonetheless, it is a great weekend for women’s golf and we hope some exposure to help grow the game.
John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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