The Masters is the most iconic tournament in golf –– so why is there still no professional women’s version of the event?
Indeed, three of golf’s four major tournaments –– the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship have long-held equivalent male and female competitions but the Masters is still yet to follow suit.
As reported by Golf Monthly, a Women’s Masters has not been officially ruled out by Augusta National but a professional tournament for female players does not appear to be in the works.
So for now, we’re no closer to seeing the likes of Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko teeing off the first in Georgia. Here are some of the main reasons why:
Augusta National Golf Club was opened for play in 1932 and has held the annual Masters Tournament since 1934.
For many years the club was made up exclusively of men and it took until 2012 before Augusta finally announced its first female members –– Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore.
Former chairman Billy Payne described this as a “proud moment, [and] a significant and positive time in our club’s history,” yet membership in general is still rarely discussed.
There had been plans to open a ladies’ course within the first decade of the club being open but the great depression resulted in financial struggles, which led to the idea being scrapped.
Valuing the amateur game
Perhaps the main reason why a professional women’s tournament has not generated more discussion is because Augusta has placed an emphasis on valuing the amateur game.
In 2019, the club introduced a 54-hole strokeplay event called the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
At the time, chairman Fred Ridley said: “Augusta National was co-founded by the greatest amateur of all time [Bobby Jones].
“To date, all of our grow-the-game initiatives have been focused on amateur golf and amateur golfers.
“We elected to conduct a women’s amateur tournament for really that same reason.
“I do think that what has happened is going to translate and be a real benefit for professional golf and for the LPGA.”
And, to be fair, the Women’s Amateur has received widespread praise since its inception. Jennifer Kupcho, the inaugural winner, received a set of crystal goblets just as the men’s winners do.
I will be heading up to Augusta today to continue my preparation and practice. It will be a game-time decision on whether I compete. Congratulations to 16-year-old Anna Davis on an amazing win at the @anwagolf and good luck to all the kids in the @DriveChipPutt.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 3, 2022
So while a professional women’s tournament would no doubt generate more money and raise the profile of women’s golf, it would come at the expense of an amateur competition that is going from strength to strength.
No time to hold it
There is also an argument to say that Augusta would struggle to hold another women’s event at a suitable time.
Part of the reason for the club’s allure is the beauty of the course and both the Women’s Amateur and the Masters are played in April when many of the 30 varieties of azaleas are in season.
The course is then shut from May to October, giving little time for a professional women’s competition to be held.
Back in 2020, the Masters was played in November due to the Covid-19 pandemic and conditions were strange to say the least.
Men’s world number two Collin Morikawa even admitted that conditions that year weren’t ideal, though there was little alternative.
“I think we can all agree that it wasn’t the best. It wasn’t tip-top and probably not what Augusta wanted or what we could’ve seen,” he said in a press conference this week.
That being said, the November Masters was still considered a success and while the course was not in perfect shape, it was more than adequate.
All this being said, there are already five women’s majors at the moment and perhaps adding a sixth would be too much. But playing at Augusta is the dream for almost every male golfer and you can bet it’s the same for female players as well.
Maybe it’s time to finally give them a chance.