The Presidents Cup has an opportunity to make a statement in the gender-equality era
Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina will host the 14th edition of the Presidents Cup from September 22-25.
As we know, it’s a men’s team event consisting of 12 international players and 12 American players competing against each other in foursomes, four-ball and individual matchplay. The tournament has been played roughly every two years since 1994, in alternate years to the Ryder Cup.
The history of the Presidents Cup usually makes for an agonisingly predictable outcome where America dominates the Internationals. Of the 13 Presidents Cups played to date, the US team has won on 11 occasions and the Internationals just once, in 1998, with one tie. Adam Scott holds the record for the most appearances with nine, and in that time only once, in 2003 in South Africa, did the Internationals tie with the Americans.
A regular topic of discussion regards what can be done to increase intrigue in the Presidents Cup. Currently, the continued supremacy of the American team is doing nothing to boost the tournament’s appeal. Sadly, the Presidents Cup is missing the fiery roars of the crowd and epic fist-pumps from the players that are synonymous with the Ryder Cup. It is this kind of competitive spirit that makes for wonderful viewership. Without some kind of shake-up, it will merely be seen as an inferior version of the Ryder Cup.
Wouldn’t it be great to replace a somewhat stagnant men’s event with an exciting, new mixed tournament? In contrast to the Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, and Solheim Cup, such a tournament would create an opportunity for the game to focus on a tournament that is distinctly different. The LPGA Tour players would have a fantastic opportunity to showcase their skills and interact with the men. It’s hard to imagine this wouldn’t immediately generate interest. It would also bolster the Presidents Cup’s competitiveness.
There are currently no mixed events on the PGA Tour or European Tour, so a mixed Presidents Cup would be a world first. When gender equality has never been more prominent, why do we not have a tournament of this nature? In addition to empowering women, advancing gender equality benefits communities as a whole. There seems to be a lack of progress in the golf industry when it comes to eliminating barriers to create a world of endless possibilities.
At present, there are only four mixed-gender tournaments in Australia (the four events comprising The Players Series). Hannah Green became the first woman to win a mixed-gender professional tournament in February this year when she won TPS Murray River on the PGA Tour of Australasia/ALPG. What used to be a strictly separate sport for men and women has been revolutionised by these tournaments.
If a mixed teams event were to eventuate, the field becomes much more level when considering the world rankings. Due to the higher rankings of the international women, the two mixed teams are comparable, creating the potential for a more even and exciting competition. A United States team of today would have an average ranking of 10.67 and the Internationals an average of 10.92 – so a mere quarter-point in the respective world rankings would separate the teams. The International team’s top six female players are all ranked within the top eight in the world. In contrast, there are only two women ranked in the top 10 for the American team. With the level playing field provided by mixed teams, an international tournament featuring both men and women would be a spectacle to behold.
Photograph by Getty images: Stuart Franklin