Golf giveth and golf taketh away
Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Mark down the 17th February 2020 as another day that saw golf giveth and taketh away. The legendary Micky Wright passed away at the age of 85 on the same day the women’s game took yet another step forward with the announcement of the Women’s Amateur Latin America Championship.
Hopefully Wright was smiling as she went to that great champions’ locker room in the sky.
It’s been a good start to the year for women’s golf with a much-improved Ladies European Tour schedule thanks to the merger with the LPGA, and Inbee Park getting her 20th career LPGA win. The Women’s Amateur Latin America Championship is further good news.
We’ve all got a long list of golfers we wish we’d seen play in their prime. Mickey Wright features on mine alongside Babe Zaharias and Joyce Wethered. They were three of the best swingers of a golf club in the history of this game. However, they hardly get mentioned in any greatest golf swing ever discussion because men dominate that conversation.
Tiger Woods trying to break out of a tie with Sam Snead for all-time tournament PGA Tour victories with 82 has been the buzz in men’s golf for a while. That happens to be the number of LPGA wins Wright had in her distinguished career.
For all the talk of Wright’s four U.S. Open wins among 13 major victories, her prodigious length off the tee, and the fact she was the first player to be fined by the LPGA, what she did to help grow the LPGA will be her legacy to this great game.
That’s why yesterday’s Women’s Amateur Latin America Championship announcement was perhaps fitting on the day Wright passed away.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers (pictured) is going to get grilled on the “Distance Insights Report” when he meets the press in his office above the Old Course’s first tee at St Andrews next week. And rightly so. However, Slumbers deserves a lot of credit for his steadfast effort to get more women and girls into golf.
The Women’s Amateur Latin America Championship presented by the R&A and the ANNIKA Foundation, to be played at Pilar Golf in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 3-6 September 2020, is part of Slumbers’ drive to grow the women’s game. He said:
“It is important for us to provide the very best women’s amateur golfers in Latin America with opportunities to compete and excel at the very highest level as part of our drive to grow and develop golf in key regions around the world.
“We have seen how the Latin America Amateur Championship has unearthed talents such as Abel Gallegos, Joaquin Niemann and Alvaro Ortiz, and so we look forward to working with the ANNIKA Foundation to replicating this success and identifying the next generation of golfers in the women’s game in the years to come.”
The fact the winner gets an exemption into next year’s AIG Women’s British Open is to be applauded.
If I have a mild criticism, it’s that this event comes five years after the men’s version was launched, albeit that’s not Slumber’s fault. Still, better late than never.
So well done Mr Slumbers. Now, how about equal prize money for men and women in the respective Open and Women’s British Open Championships?
You know it’s the right thing to do. Mickey Wright would probably have told you that.