Augusta to host women’s tournament

Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters, has confirmed it will host a women’s tournament ahead of next year’s edition of the major.

The club, which only started allowing in women as members six years ago, will host the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship the week before the 2019 Masters tournament.

“(Club founders) Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts left behind a legacy of always trying to contribute meaningfully to the game of golf,” the club’s chairman, Fred Ridley, said in his first State of the Masters address.

“The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship embodies that principle and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women’s game. Our hope and expectation is that this event will further energise those who already love the sport and inspire others through the dream of competing at Augusta National.”

The 54-hole stroke-play tournament will feature 72 players from around the world.

He added: “I just felt that there was an opportunity and a platform to make a statement as to how we feel about this part of the game. I just felt it was time to do that. We also feel that is the way that we can make the greatest impact in growing the game, and in this particular instance the women’s game. I think over time that this will also be of great benefit to the women’s professional game as well.”

For years, Augusta stood firm in the face of protests from equal-rights campaigners, with the first female members only being allowed to join in 2012 after Billy Payne succeeded William Johnson as chairman.