- Alistair Tait
Berkhamsted scores PR coup with mixed golf tournament
Give Berkhamsted Golf Club a round of applause for kicking off 2020 with an excellent bit of marketing, and for creating a tournament unique to the British amateur scene.
The Hertfordshire club has decided to open its eponymous competition, the Berkhamsted Trophy, to male and female amateurs from this year. The 61-year-old tournament was previously male only.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers and three-time Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards praised the club for its forward thinking
“The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter is a call to action for everyone involved in golf, from national associations to clubs, to do more to attract women and girls to take up this wonderful sport,” Slumbers said. “There are many different ways in which this can be achieved and we are supportive of initiatives, such as this by Berkhamsted, which encourage women to compete and play golf at all levels.”
England Golf Performance Director Edwards chipped in with:
“As the country’s governing body for male and female amateur golfers, at England Golf we are delighted to support Berkhamsted Golf Club’s forward-thinking initiative.”
The BBC and Daily Telegraph ran stories on the announcement. Both respected organisations probably haven’t written about the Berkhamsted Trophy since Sandy Lyle won it in 1977.
Former Berkhamsted Trophy winner Peter McEvoy convinced the club to stage a male and female event. He deserves kudos for giving the tournament more PR than it’s had in years.
Lyle and McEvoy aren’t the only high-profile Berkhamsted winners. Former world number one Luke Donald, Graeme Storm, Tom Lewis and Andy Sullivan have their names on the trophy.
Unfortunately, the tournament hasn’t attracted players of similar quality in a long time. Despite that, the club’s press release suggests the tournament is “one of amateur golf’s long-established, prestige tournaments.”
The Berkhamsted, which is held in early April (2-4 this year) may once have been prestigious, but it has tumbled down the amateur food chain. The World Amateur Golf Ranking gave the tournament an F rating last year, when England’s Joss Gosling won. The Lytham Trophy, Brabazon Trophy and St Andrews Links Trophy, the real prestigious events in the British Isles after the Amateur Championship, were all A ranked tournaments.
Gosling, a University of Texas at Arlington graduate, will defend his trophy this year. He’s currently ranked 4,071st on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. His career high is world number 2,742.
Women & Golf editor Alison Root suggested the Berkhamsted could have “a potential domino effect which would be great news for the longevity of the sport.”
That remains to be seen. I don’t see it happening with, say, with the Lytham Trophy. However, it would be fantastic if Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, an 11-time Open Championship venue, were to stage a women’s Lytham Trophy.
As for other amateur tournaments on a par with the Berkhamsted, why not mix it up? The more male and female players compete together the better for the game. That’s why Berkhamsted’s initiative is to be welcomed.