Credit where it’s due, as the saying goes, so a teaspoon of credit to Augusta National amongst the bucket of criticism that is to follow.
What you are about to read (assuming you continue on) will be an unpopular opinion but it seems any criticism of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur goes against the grain so we won’t let that stop us.
First the credit: As a concept, the ANWA gets an A+.
Now the criticism: For execution, Augusta National gets an F-.
One assumes what Fred Ridley and co were trying to achieve when they came up with the idea for the ANWA was a noble gesture.
What they ultimately signed off on more resembles a token gesture.
"With an entire golf season of dates to choose from, Augusta National decided the game’s best interests would be served by setting up camp opposite the first women’s major of the year." - Rod Morri.
First, the bulk of the field get to play only a practise round at the fabled Augusta National.
The field of 72 plays the first two rounds at nearby Champions Retreat on Wednesday and Thursday before a practise round at Augusta Friday.
The top 30 from the opening 36 holes then play for the title Saturday at the home of The Masters.
That’s a pretty good deal for the club which gets all the credit and positive press while hosting very little of the actual golf.
But this is a minor issue compared to the more glaring problem of the tournament’s scheduling.
With an entire golf season of dates to choose from, Augusta National decided the game’s best interests would be served by setting up camp opposite the first women’s major of the year.
That decision – taken without consulting the LPGA – nullifies any and all good intent the club may have had in starting the tournament in the first place.
By choosing the same date as the ANA, Augusta are essentially anointing themselves of equal importance as the year’s first major.
And worse, that decision has diluted coverage of one of the premiere events in the game, not only among fans but among the established golf press, many of whom now head to Augusta instead of the ANA.
As an added affront, the club have created a horrible dilemma for a select group of elite amateurs who have historically been invited to play the ANA.
Those young women now have to decide which event they will tee up in, an outcome with no real winners.
All of this was so unnecessary, of course, which leads one to question the deeper motives of the club.
An organisation capable of annually running one of the biggest and undisputed best sporting events in the world surely didn’t stumble into this situation by accident?
As a marketing exercise the ANWA has been an enormous success. Fans have had the opportunity to see some of the game’s top women amateurs on one of the game’s most revered courses while Augusta National have collected accolades globally for having the foresight to start the event.
But for a club that prides itself on perceived perfection, the ANWA falls a long way short.