There have been calls for a women’s equivalent of the Masters. But how likely is that to happen and what are the practical obstacles to overcome?
How Likely Is A Women’s Masters?
As equality in golf gathers pace, people have been asking whether it is time to have a Women’s Masters.
After all, there is a Women’s US Open and the Women’s British Open.
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So how about a women’s version of another of golf’s iconic events?
Augusta National has not ruled it out, but says it has no plans to institute such an event.
Augusta National admitted its first two women members only in 2012.
The club’s membership is not publicly discussed by the club, but the club did announce their first lady members.
It was “a proud moment, a significant and positive time in our club’s history,” said Augusta National chairman Billy Payne at the time.
One reason why a Women’s Masters is not currently on the club’s agenda is that the club is protective of a nascent tournament that it co-hosts, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
This event debuted in 2019, a 54-hole strokeplay event. A practice round is played at Augusta National; the first two tournament rounds at Champions Retreat Golf Club.
The 72-strong field is cut to 30 for the final round, which is played at Augusta National a week before the Masters.
Or that is how it worked in 2019. The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The Augusta National Women’s Amateur last year attracted positive media coverage, not least because of the quality of the play.
Winner Jennifer Kupcho played the final six holes in five under, including an eagle on 13. For this eagle she was awarded a set of crystal goblets, just as players in The Masters are.
Part of the club’s DNA is support of amateur golf.
It was after all co-founded by Bobby Jones one of the finest amateur golfers ever. This new tournament maintained the club’s traditional ethos while branching out to support women’s golf.
Holding a Women’s Masters would raise the profile of the women’s professional game, but at the expense of the women’s amateur game.
Another part of the DNA of Augusta National is exclusivity.
This runs throughout everything it does. For example, when the club opened an online shop this year it was limited to patrons only, and even then they could only buy two items. Less is more in Augusta National’s eyes.
So would they hold three high-profile tournaments a year? Unlikely.
Moreover when could they hold it? The club is keen to showcase it’s course at it finest, using dye in the water and all the rest of it. This is in April when the blooms are out.
It is no coincidence that the women’s event was played the week before the Masters. The course also closes from May to October due to the oppressive heat of the Georgian summer.
But maybe if a November Masters is deemed a success, it would open up another acceptable date on the Augusta National calendar?
Perhaps that will be the time to have a Women’s Masters? Perhaps.
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