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Women’s Amateur coming to Augusta… should there be a Women’s Masters?

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On Wednesday of Masters Tournament week 2018, chairman Fred Ridley announced that the Augusta National Golf Club, in partnership with the Champions Retreat Golf Club (also in Augusta), will co-host a women’s amateur tournament in spring, 2019. The event will welcome 72 top amateur golfers to the area. The first two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat. After a cut to the low 30 and ties is made, the final round will be played at Augusta National the Saturday prior to the Masters.

With the excitement of this announcement, many followers of the game wonder if a Women’s Masters is the next step. The answer, succinctly, is no.

The women’s professional game is strong as ever, rivaling the men’s game in everything but prize money and television coverage. The men’s amateur series is thick with tournaments, sometimes hosting three, national-quality events per week from June through September. In stark contrast is the women’s amateur circuit; fewer events exist and they are a challenge to tie together. The Augusta National women’s amateur championship is just the thing to jump-start a proper, women’s amateur series.

Let me first eliminate the notion that a women’s Masters would be a good thing for the game. I have five reasons to dispel this notion: ANA Inspiration, US Open, Open Championship, Women’s PGA, Evian Championship. Five major titles already exist on the combined women’s professional tours. To the credit of the ladies, 40 percent of their majors (compared to 25 percent for the men) take place outside the USA. Adding a sixth major title (could a Women’s Masters be anything less than a major?) would dilute the major title value, and would make a tight schedule even tighter.

The Porter Cup, near my home town, added a Women’s Porter Cup a few years back. It takes place in early June, and brings a fair number of talented amateurs to the event. What about a Women’s Sunnehanna? A Women’s Northeast? I could go on, but you see the problem. Not enough events, outside of the USGA Amateur and the Western Amateur, to tie a true, summer schedule together.

If you look at the initiatives that ANGC has championed over the past decade (Latin American Amateur Championship; Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship; Drive, Chip and Putt; Women’s Amateur Championship) they have sought to fill in gaps. Remember, too, that the original Augusta Spring Invitational (now The Masters) was established during the Great Depression, when the PGA Tour was little more than a skeleton. To force a similar event on the LPGA and LET might not be welcomed by the women who have built these tours into the strong circuits they are today. In contrast, to welcome the top female amateurs of the world to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, is to validate both women and youth simultaneously.

Bravo, membership, for this step. Continue to add events, but be certain that they fill gaps.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Bob Parson Jr.

    Apr 7, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    I can’t wait for the first transgender and what Augusta National is going to do about it. Well meant, poorly thought out.

  2. Dan

    Apr 5, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Have you reached out to ANY LPGA athletes to get their feedback?
    I’m certain they would love another major.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 5, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      i wouldn’t pretend to speak for them, and I’m certain that they are busy. From my perspective, having 6 majors to play for makes reaching the Hall of Fame that much easier, and it distorts historic records. When 1/4 of your tour events are major titles, something is wrong, in my opinion.

  3. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 4, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Not Gonna Change,

    I don’t agree with you on identifiable players, traditions and great story lines, but that’s a debate for another time.

    Giving players a shot at 2 more majors than traditionally existed on the LPGA Tour would dilute the product. The Champions Tour has 5, I believe, and it seems like they happen every other week in the summer.

  4. Luke Demaree

    Apr 4, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I think it’s kind of ridiculous to give the experience of playing Augusta National to amateurs before established pros.

  5. 4Right

    Apr 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    They definitely should add Augusta to the LPGA. Maybe a major one day, just like the PGA tour, it wasn’t a major early on I don’t think. But it would probably have the highest TV ratings of any LPGA event. I watch the LPGA more than the men, I feel my swing is more like theirs…

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 4, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      No doubt it would have great ratings, 4Right. I think that contracts would make changing majors difficult. They did it with the duMaurier Classic, but that was due to duMaurier being a cigarette brand.

  6. Not gonna change

    Apr 4, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    You said it best: the LPGA equals the PGA tour in everything but prize money or TV coverage. Let me add to this list : viewership, sponsor money, identifiable players (sans Lexi and Michelle), traditions (see poppy pond debacle) or great story lines.

    There’s no reason to add any more majors to the women’s tour, it simply won’t get too much more popular and will always be dwarfed by the PGA tour… It is what it is

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The Gear Dive: Accra Shafts — Finau’s proto, “What is the function of the shaft in a club head?”

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Accra Shafts’ Ken Thompson and Gawain Robertson chat with Johnny Wunder on the challenges of the shaft industry, what makes their shafts the best in the business, and Tony Finau’s custom set up.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

3:45 — What makes Accra so special
5:30 — The origin of Accra
8:45 — The importance of TOUR Validation
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17:30 — The TOUR ZRPG
23:40 — Mock Fitting for a specific player profile
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7 tips for senior golfers to play better and enjoy the game longer

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Have you ever played a golf course and remembered where you used to hit the ball on certain holes? Have you ever gotten to a 360-yard par-4 and recalled when you used to lick your chops because you knew a little flip wedge for your second was ahead? Ever made shooting your age your next big goal? If you have, welcome to golf’s back nine, the time when you keep seeking improvement knowing full well it will never be what it once was.

Aging is another vivid example of the paradoxical beast that lies at the heart of our game. If we’re totally honest, we admit we can’t do anything as well as we did 25-30 years ago. Yet a little voice never far from our golf ears keeps whispering, “If you just move the ball in your stance and adjust your grip, you will hit it solid again.” That’s when we need to be honest and ask, “What does solid mean at 65-70-75 years old?” It certainly isn’t solid like it was at 35 years old, but it may be more solid than the last shot, or yesterday. And as we’ll see, it just might be solid enough for the home stretch. So we keep playing and practicing in a search for golf’s version of a fountain of youth.

If you are, like this author, closer to the 18th green than the first tee, here are 7 golden nuggets for the golden years:

1. Forget how you used to play

Stay present and take what the game gives you now, here, today. If that’s 210 off the tee, get your fairway woods and hybrids out and do the best you can with your inevitably longer approach.

2. Work on your scoring game

If aging has robbed you of flexibility and strength, it does not have to affect your game from 100 yards in. Seniors need to chip and putt more than any other age group.

3. Yoga and Pilates

If you think we’re old, we are a babe in the woods compared to these ancient disciplines. The mind/body connection is vital for seniors. And… the results speak for themselves! Staying as flexible and as strong as you can for as long as you can is vital for senior golf. Oh, and walk and carry whenever possible!

4. Get properly fitted

Not only do we play senior golf dreaming of yesteryear, male seniors often let testosterone affect their game. I get sooo many seniors coming to see me who are ill-fitted for their equipment, or more accurately, using equipment that once fit their game85-90 mph clubhead speed does not likely require a stiff shaft, 9 degrees of loft or 75 grams of weight to achieve proper launch and landing conditions. Good senior golf demands brutal honesty with yourself.

5. Consider swing “adjustments,” not “new swings”

I don’t want to be a bearer of bad tidings here, but as a teacher of many years, I know this much: The swing you’ve had for oh so many years is not going to change. At least not very much. The does not mean it can’t be made more effective. I “tweak” seniors, not break them down.

6. Play forward tees

I’m a club professional, and I was a fairly decent player once. At 70 years young, I am proud to say that I play white tees measuring no more than 6300 yards. And in a few years, I’ll likely move up again. It’s just a fact of life and denying it is futile.

7. Check your fundamentals

Just because a certain grip, posture or ball position was effective once, as we age, all these may need adjustments from time to time. Swings get shorter, slower, narrow, etc. And as they do, we have to allow for these things and find new ways to complement the “senior swing.”

The alternative to all of the above is a garage sale. And as long I can swing a golf club, I will be doing so. If I want to enjoy the game, I’ll do so with lighter clubs, from shorter tees, chipping and putting my way into the hole. We’d all like to turn back the clock, but the last time that happened was, uh, never.

Enjoy the back nine. I know I am.

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