Above: The Trophee Hassan II in Morocco is the lone time on the
European tours where the men and women play together.
WITH the summer of golf Down Under now here, it dawned on me how exciting it would be if there were a tournament format involving men and women, as is the case in tennis’ Grand Slams.
Perhaps the notion of a national title hosting men and women at the same time is a little ambitious, but there are other ways of designing tournaments so fans will simultaneously experience golf from both sexes in the same city. This format would hopefully attract the top players in the world.
The Victorian Open hosts men and women at the same venue and the tournament is a huge success. Other than this event and one in Morocco, the men’s and women’s professional games are incredibly separate. The schedules do not overlap so there is no opportunity for spectators to watch both.
It would be particularly advantageous for the women’s tournaments to be held at the same time as the men’s, either at the same venue or at a nearby course. The women would benefit enormously from this type of setup, as it is no secret men’s tournaments attract bigger crowds and have a bigger budget for marketing and advertising. The two bodies could pool resources and promote the two simultaneously. Over four days, there is ample time for spectators to go between the two venues to watch both.
Tennis is a wonderful example of how well it works to have both sexes playing at the same time. Imagine if tennis was like golf and both tournaments were played at completely separate times and venues? If this were the case, I would question whether the women would receive equal prizemoney in the Grand Slams. I also doubt the women’s game would generate the crowds without the lure of the men playing as well. There are sound reasons why men’s and women’s golf tournaments are separate and it mainly comes down to the number of players in the field and the capacity the golf course can host, but there are ways around that.
Further, it would also be awesome to see a tournament where the men and women play their respective tournaments first and then remained for a mixed event. It would be a wonderful spectacle to see the likes of Adam Scott and Karrie Webb teeing it up in the same group – this would bring a huge amount of exposure to all the players. Alternatively, there could be a mixed teams matchplay event, which would create a lot of interest and excitement. There have been very few mixed events held around the world in recent times and I think the concept would be very much welcomed by golf fans. Again, tennis has set a great example as it has the women’s and men’s singles together with doubles and mixed doubles in one tournament.
There is no doubt hosting both sexes at once would generate a lot of public interest and would be evident in the media. Local businesses would thrive during the tournament and we would see an increase in tourism. Travel companies, accommodation for spectators and restaurants would all benefit greatly. It would be a unique tournament experience for fans and perhaps Australia could lead the way and be one of the the first countries to hold such a tournament.
The two professional bodies, the PGA of Australia and the ALPG, would need to work together for this format to be a success. They would need a joint effort in promoting the event and in turn help to boost golf in Australia and impact every level – not only in the top professional level but also through to juniors and amateurs.
– Annabel Rolley is an Australian golf professional and host of Australian Golf Digest TV