Why is it that more people don’t like or watch women’s golf? If the goal of professional golf is to entertain – and I am of the firm belief it is – then sheer bloody mindedness is the only possible reason for a golfer not to take an interest in the women’s game.
Having been fortunate to spend the past week at Bonville Golf Resort near Coffs Harbour watching the Australian Ladies Classic (an event co-sanctioned by the ALPG and Ladies European Tours) I came away more baffled than ever by the seeming lack of interest of most fans in the women’s game.
In terms of quality, entertaining golf, the only difference between the top women players and the top men is distance which, in a funny way, actually makes the women’s game MORE entertaining.
Case in point: New South Wales amateur Doey Choi who led the tournament after an opening 66.
Apart from being a terrific young woman with personality to burn, Choi is machine like in her accuracy both from the tee and into the greens.
She is, however, a short hitter, even among her peers.
At Bonville’s first hole on Saturday – a demanding par-4 with a small landing area and an uphill second to a bunkered green – she hit perhaps one of the best shots I’ve ever witnessed in person
From 170 odd metres, into the wind and to a pin tucked behind a deep bunker, she hit a high, laser-like 3-wood that carried the trap and somehow stopped 20 feet behind the hole.
I was walking with PGA Member and former touring professional Larry Canning at the time and, as many who know Larry will attest, he is rarely serious.
But underneath the light-hearted exterior Larry is both an extremely astute judge of golf swings and a keen student of the game and he was more than a little impressed with Choi’s effort.
(Incidentally, as if to prove it was no fluke, Choi went on to hit dozens of equally impressive shots over the course of the weekend on her way to a brilliant T4 finish. She is a player to watch.)
RIGHT: Madelene Sagstrom has all the tools required to be a world top-10 player. PHOTO: Mark Brake/Getty Images.
The thing that struck me about the shot more than anything was that, as golf fans, it’s hard to imagine where we might see its equivalent in the men’s game.
The days of seeing the world’s best attack the 15th at Augusta with a fairway wood or 1- or 2-iron are long gone and, to me at least, that seems a shame.
But back to the women. Choi and her remarkable ball striking aside, the tournament was a revelation in terms of players to watch.
Former Solheim Cup representative Madelene Sagstrom has all the tools required to be a world top-10 player and is a pleasure to follow on the course.
She is plenty long enough and adapts her trajectory beautifully to whatever conditions dictate. Physically she is capable of anything.
Sagstrom’s only obvious flaw at this stage of her career is learning to convert leads into wins.
At both the Women’s Australian Open and this past week at Bonville she put herself in position to but couldn’t get across the line. Once she overcomes that, it’s hard to see her doing anything but rising to the top echelons of the game.
A less well known and – to date – less well credentialed player who also caught the eye was Spain’s Nuria Iturrios.
Aside from owning one of the great names ever to grace a leaderboard, the 23-year-old plays the game with a boldness and flair that is pure joy to watch.
Aggressive without being reckless, she also has one of the game’s great attitudes where a chip in for birdie or a ball in the water are met with the same smile.
Iturrios and her fellow women golfers are not only good AT the game, they are good FOR the game.
If you ever get the chance to watch them, grab it. It is well worth the effort.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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