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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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Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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