Augusta National Golf Club has had a reputation of keeping with tradition even to the point of being stubborn about that. After digging in their heels in not allowing women as members, even going so far as going commercial free in 2003 and 2004 due to pressure on advertisers to leave The Masters for their men-only policies, Augusta started accepting female members to the club in 2012, inviting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and businesswoman Darla Moore to be members.
Now, after 16 years since Martha Burk’s protest of Augusta, the Golf Club has announced they are launching a women’s amateur golf tournament that will take place there.
The “Augusta National Women’s Amateur” will be a three round amateur tournament open to amateur female golfers the weekend before the men’s tournament. While the tournament will be three rounds, just the final round will take place at Augusta while the first two rounds will happen at the Champions Retreat Golf Club outside Augusta. The final round will be that Saturday and will be the first event to kick off the weeklong Masters festivities.
A total of 72 women will be invited to compete in the amateur tournament and is certainly a step in the right direction in growing golf and to find a happy medium in growing with the times and be inclusive to everyone as well as keeping with the traditions of Augusta National.
Hopefully this progresses to a professional women’s event at Augusta someday. For many people, The Masters is the only men’s golf tournament they watch each year. By extending this to LPGA golfers and have a Ladies Masters a week or so before or after the men’s tournament, it would be a great way to introduce many people to women’s golf and really become a catalyst to making golf, and especially women’s golf, an even stronger sport.