Women to play Augusta National in ground-breaking event
COURTESY AUGUSTA NATIONAL

The Augusta National Golf Club has finally recognized women's golf.

Last spring, Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta Nation Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced that they have established the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship, to be played annually the week prior to the Masters.

The inaugural event will be held April 3-6 on the famed course. Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Se Ri Pak are featured guests.

Ridley said that "We believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women's game."

The 54-hole, stroke play tournament will feature an international field of 72 women. Invitees are determined by using the Women's World Amateur Golf rankings. The No. 1 ranked amateur is defending NCAA Champion Jennifer Kupico of Wake Forest, who won the 2018 Darius Rucker Tournament held on Hilton Head Island.

This year's Darius Rucker winner, Frieda Kinhult of Florida State University, is ranked No. 3 and is expected to play. The top collegiate players participate in the Darius Rucker tournament each spring.

The first two rounds of the Augusta tournament will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. After a cut to the low 30 scores, the final round will be played April 6 at Augusta National. This historic event will be televised around the world.

The winner, provided she remains an amateur, will receive an invitation to the next five Augusta National Women's Amateur Championships, the 2019 U.S. Women's Open, and the 2019 Women's British Open.

Playing Augusta National is a huge step for women's golf. However, this tournament is up against the LPGA's first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration. The LPGA allows up to six amateurs to play in their majors. It was a difficult decision for the top amateurs to make.

All of this is exciting news for women's golf simply because Augusta National had excluded women players since it opened in 1932. In 2012, Augusta National invited two women into their male-only club membership.

One was Darla Moore, who was listed by Fortune Magazine as the "toughest babe in business." She founded the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. The other inductee was Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and professor at Stanford University.

Hopefully, more women will be invited to be members of this exclusive golf course.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com


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