At the Centurion Club in St Albans this weekend, another encouraging step will be taken in the long and rocky journey to bring women’s golf in from the cold.
The two-day GolfSixes tournament, featuring 16 teams who play one another over six-hole knockout matches, made a good start last year with its shortened format and innovative concepts, such as a shot clock to speed up play.
But this year’s follow-up will be a lot more interesting. Alongside a team of England men, there will be a side comprising Georgia Hall and Charley Hull representing England’s women.
Charley Hull will represent England women at the GolfSixes tournament in St Albans
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
‘My whole team and my family, they’ve worked really hard for this moment, and I’m happy we can celebrate together. When that putt dropped, I was like, ‘Oh, my God’.’
Last week, as she turned 21, we highlighted the difficulties facing Lydia Ko since leaving her teenage years behind. This week, it’s fair to say she’s left those difficulties behind, too.
On Sunday in California, the brilliant New Zealander struck a fine three-wood to three feet to set up an eagle three at the first play-off hole to seal her first win on the LPGA Tour in two years, and her 15th in all.
Furthermore, Mel Reid and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda will also team up, while the Ryder and Solheim Cup captains — Thomas Bjorn and Catriona Matthew — will combine their considerable talents against teams packed with plenty of tour winners this year, such as the English pair Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace.
Nothing illustrates the fact that golf is now under new management in virtually all branches quite like the enlightened approach to atone for the days when women were treated like creatures from another planet.
On the PGA Tour last week, at the two-man team event taking place in New Orleans, CEO Jay Monahan declared it simply ‘a matter of time’ before they joined up with the LPGA to create a mixed-team tournament.
It’s the latest encouraging step in the revolution in golf as Hull and Georgia Hall play
‘We’re very interested in getting the men and women together inside the ropes in the same week and the same competition,’ he said. ‘It’s something we’ll see in the future and it will be an exciting addition.’
The R&A are keen to play their part as well. At the end of this month they will host a Women in Golf Charter at the Shard in London, describing it as a call to arms for a more inclusive game.
Clearly, golf’s sheer logistics means it will never be like tennis, with Grand Slams for both sexes taking place in tandem. But equally, it was ridiculous that men and women operated in totally separate spheres for so long, when there are a number of scenarios where they can actually compete side by side.
It all starts at St Albans this weekend, and a revolution whose time has blessedly come.
Tiger and Rory shaking off cobwebs
After all the excitement of the Masters, the last three weeks have felt more like a full-on snooze for golf rather than a lull.
That should all change in North Carolina from Thursday, when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy return to action alongside the man in the green jacket, Patrick Reed, at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in a high-grade tune-up for the Players Championship at Sawgrass next week.
For Rory — who turns 29 on Friday — after all the disappointment of that shocking final round at Augusta, where better to begin his recovery than the scene of his first PGA Tour victory in 2010 at the tender age of 21, and another triumph in 2015.
As for Tiger, we’ve had the joy of seeing him play again and then the fact he can clearly compete once more. But where will he achieve what would be his 80th PGA Tour victory and, following the misery of four rapid-fire back surgeries, surely the most meaningful after his 14 majors?
Yes, it’s safe to say we’re about to receive a raucous wake-up call.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy return to action on Thursday after a three-week break