AUGUSTA, Ga. – The success of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur doesn’t mean that the club has any immediate plans to host an event for the top women’s professionals.
In his State of the Masters address Wednesday morning, chairman Fred Ridley said that the club will continue to focus its grow-the-game efforts on amateur golf and not necessarily the professional game.
“To date, all of our grow-the-game initiatives have been focused on amateur golf and amateur golfers,” Ridley said. “And in this particular case, we elected to conduct a women’s amateur tournament for the same reason, but we really wanted this to continue in a grow-the-game sort of mode. I do think that what has happened is going to translate and be a real benefit for professional golf and for the LPGA.”
Ridley congratulated winner Jennifer Kupcho and runner-up Maria Fassi, who took part in a media tour earlier this week following their dramatic duel. He even heard reports that they were being recognized on the streets in New York City.
“I think that’s good for women’s golf in general,” he said, “and they are going to be well received by the LPGA and are going to get off to a great start in their careers there.”
Ridley said that adding another professional event at Augusta National would also create a logistical challenge for the club. He pointed to the fact that the first two rounds of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur were contested about 30 minutes away, at Champions Retreat in Evans, Ga., to cut down on some of the demands at the home of the Masters.
“We were trying to balance providing the women competitors with the opportunity to be at Augusta National, to have a championship decided at Augusta National, but be cognizant of the fact that we were just a few days away from the Masters Tournament,” Ridley said.
“So if you put it in the context with the Masters being the epicenter of our competitive tournament administration efforts, we do have some limitations as to what we could do, and we try to balance that in deciding how we can best deploy our resources for the good of the game. I think that’s the approach we are going to continue to take.”