Golf is ready for a women’s Masters, even if Augusta National isn’t | Anya Alvarez
A womens major at Augusta would go a long way toward growing the game and an even longer way toward dispelling the clubs rep as a bastion for sexism
LPGA veteran Paula Creamer received broad support from her hundreds of thousands of followers when she first called for a womens Masters two years ago on Twitter.
What the 2010 US Open champion did not have, however, was the backing of Augusta National. Namely, chairman Billy Payne, who said in response: I dont think so. I believe I had that question last year or the year before. We have a very short member season at Augusta National, its seven months only. The time that we dedicate to the preparation and conduct of the tournament is already extensive. I dont think that we would ever host another tournament here.
The Masters is bathed in tradition: the par-three contest on Wednesday afternoon, where players have their spouses, parents, friends, or children caddy for them; the pink azaleas dotting the course; Butlers Cabin; the white caddie jumpsuits; the pimento cheese sandwich; and last but not least, Amen Corner.
So exalted has the Masters become in the public consciousness that getting tickets is damn near impossible, unless you know a player or God. In fact, its a long-running rumor that many lapsed churchgoers only rediscovered their faith in the hopes that Masters tickets would suddenly fall into their hands.
The tournament itself is undeniably exciting, as the very best male golfers in the world tee it up for a bid at history. Its where legends such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus all hoisted the trophy, and were draped with an oversized green jacket. Its where Tiger Woods broke his maiden with his epochal, record-shattering win 20 years ago, clapping back at Augustas blatant and known racism in the most satisfying way imaginable. The first of mens golfs four bedrock events in any given year, it sets the tone for the rest of the season.
So it should surprise no one that players on the LPGA Tour are behind Creamers pitch for a womens event at American golfs hallowed ground. Said Demi Runas, in her second year on the tour: It would be incredible if there was a womens Masters. We all compete hard, week in and week out, and I think those women at the top of our sport deserve an event that honors that level of dedication.
Currently, the LPGA has five majors: the ANA Inspiration, the US Open, the Ricoh British Open, the Womens PGA Championship and the Evian Championship.
Of the five, the ANA has the most tradition: the caddies also wear white jumpsuits, theres a woman who passes out over 1,000 handmade ribbon flowers each year to players and spectators, and the winner customarily jumps into Poppies Pond just off the 18th green.
Sydnee Muncrief, an LPGA veteran, said of the ANA: Its such a special event and place with such rich history for the LPGA and womens golf. The whole vibe of the week including the star studded Pro-Am is just different in the best way. No other mens event champ gets to jump in Poppies Pond So in my mind, that is our Masters and I think we should be really proud of that.
But despite the ANAs best intentions, the LPGA has struggled cultivate the type of tradition in its major events that is the Masters stock in trade.