• Alistair Tait

Curtis Cup common sense

Call it the Charley Hull clause. The R&A and USGA invoked it yesterday in a victory for common sense.

Young women from the United States and Great Britain & Ireland now won’t have to choose between representing their countries in next year’s Curtis Cup or Junior Solheim Cup.

The Curtis Cup was supposed to have taken place at Conwy Golf Club, Wales last month – 12-14 June – but had to be postponed until next year because of coronavirus. However, as I highlighted, the governing bodies did a poor job of looking at next year’s schedule. Until yesterday, the Curtis and Solheim Cups were set to clash, meaning some players would have to choose between playing the Curtis Cup or Junior Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

The clash brought back the nightmare Charley Hull faced in 2012 when she was forced to choose between taking part in a Curtis Cup squad session at Nairn, or playing in the ANA Inspiration.

Hull chose to play in the major championship – who wouldn’t? – and was initially kicked off the Curtis Cup squad. Thankfully, the Ladies Golf Union bowed to common sense and eventually picked Hull for the eight-player team. It would have been a travesty if Hull hadn’t been chosen: she was ranked ninth on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, England’s top amateur.

Hull played her part in Great Britain & Ireland’s victory at Nairn, contributing a vital point in the final singles’ session as GB&I won 10 ½–9 ½, GB&I’s first victory since 1996. It’s a tribute to Hull’s strength of character, even at the tender age of 16, that she was able to ride through the controversy. She should never have been put in that position in the first place.

Thankfully, potential amateurs will not have to face a similar choice next year after the R&A and USGA changed the Curtis Cup dates from 3-5 September to August 26-28. They’ve even scheduled a Saturday finish to ensure those players chosen to play in the Junior Solheim have more time to get to Ohio. Nice touch.

In announcing the date change, Duncan Weir, the R&A’s Executive Director of Golf Development and Amateur Championships, said:

“We have listened to the feedback we received about the rescheduled dates for the Curtis Cup in 2021 and looked again at the schedule. We have moved the match forward by a week and introduced a Saturday finish to enable it to slot in ahead of the Solheim Cup. We are grateful for the assistance we have received from the USGA and hope this will offer the best outcome for the players of both teams. We look forward very much to welcoming them to Conwy in August next year.”

The Curtis Cup should be the highlight for any top woman amateur. Ditto playing in the Junior Solheim Cup. The experience of playing in the junior version of the Solheim and then staying on not only to cheer on the professionals in the match proper, but rub shoulders with them too, is the stuff of dreams for any amateur golfer.

Hull was fortunate to play in both, competing in the 2011 Junior Solheim before taking part in the competition the Curtis sisters, Harriet and Margaret, bequeathed to golf in 1932. So kudos to the R&A, USGA and Conwy Golf Club for ensuring the next crop of promising amateurs have a chance to do the same.

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