An innovative concept that showcases the talent and personalities of Australia’s best young female golfers, The Athena, is now locked in to the WPGA Tour of Australasia schedule until at least 2025.
The Athena, which debuted in 2021 and achieved standout growth in 2022 will return to screens and the Sandy Golf Links greens in 2023.
The tournament is now a joint venture between the WPGA Tour of Australasia, the PGA of Australia, Golf Australia, and Evolve Sports Group who developed and delivered the first two years of the concept, highlighting the continued collaboration between the peak bodies of golf.
The priority of the concept is to engage youth through entertainment. The 12-player format brings a spotlight to the incredible skill and personalities of young talent coming through in the next generation of golf, and gives them a platform, media training and experience unlike anywhere in world golf.
The Athena is a compact two-day event to be played at Sandy Golf Links in Cheltenham, Melbourne, on March 4-5. Both days of The Athena will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Kayo.
WPGA Tour of Australasia chief executive Karen Lunn said: “The Athena is a standout tournament on the WPGA Tour schedule which showcases golf from a whole new perspective. The format of The Athena with a field of 12 and the mix of challenges and matchplay means we can showcase the skill and talent of our up-and-coming young stars while also giving our TV and in-person audiences a new, exciting and fast-paced product to engage with.
“These athletes are not only fantastic golfers, they are also amazing young women, and the Athena provides the platform for Australian fans to get an insight into their personalities and see that there is much more to them than the player they are used to watching in the more traditional broadcasts where they just see the face behind the cap and the sunglasses.
“Each year we see new faces at The Athena and the best part is we get to see how their careers unfold, like our 2022 champion Kirsten Rudgeley who has just secured her Ladies European Tour card, and runner-up Grace Kim who will be playing on the LPGA Tour in 2023. The women competing in The Athena truly are the next generation of Australia’s best golfers.”
PGA Tour of Australasia chief executive Gavin Kirkman added: “The Athena has gone from strength-to-strength and we’re excited to be even more involved in 2023 through our deepened partnership with the WPGA Tour of Australasia. Australia produces some of the world’s best golfers and to be able to provide the next generation of talent with a platform like The Athena provides these players with invaluable experience that will help them progress in their careers.”
Golf Australia chief executive James Sutherland said: “The Athena’s success so far proves that there’s an appetite for golf in all its forms. As one of the biggest participation sports in the country, the women competing in The Athena are incredible role models for the next generation of golfers and we see it as integral that the national body be a part of celebrating and promoting a tournament as impactful as The Athena.”
Evolve Sports and Athena founder Matt Burgess said: “This investment securing The Athena by Australia’s peak bodies of golf for at least three years illustrates their intent to act and not just talk about engaging golf’s future generations and executing the National Golf Strategy. Off the back of significant investment from founding partners WPGA Tour of Australasia and Fox Sports, The Athena has achieved engagement of youth in golf via athlete-first storytelling content and is a platform for the next generation of stars to shine brightly in their pro careers. We have only started scratching the surface of golf’s potential. We are very excited to continue pushing this sport with progression of The Athena and other concepts both in Australia and around the world.”
Foxtel Group commercial director of sport Rebecca McCloy said: “We are always on the look-out for innovative formats and The Athena certainly ticks that box. The next generation of Australian golf is in wonderful hands with these young women and we are thrilled to be able to showcase them to more than 2.8 million sports subscribers across Foxtel and Kayo Sports.
“We recently extended our partnership with the PGA of Australia, Golf Australia and the WPGA Tour to showcase the best domestic golf and this compliments our coverage of the PGA Tour, the PGA Championship, the Masters, US Open, The Open Championship, Presidents Cup, LPGA and the Ryder Cup. Fox Sports is truly the home of golf in Australia. We have been on board with The Athena since day one and we couldn’t be more excited to continue supporting these amazingly talented female Australian golfers.”