Ladies European Tour backs decision to allow both sexes to compete in the Berkhamsted Trophy

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire February 24, 2020 22:19

A decision to allow both sexes to compete in the Berkhamsted Trophy, a world-first for elite amateur golf, has been backed by the Ladies European Tour (LET).

The decision, which also has the support of The R&A and England Golf, represents the first time that one of amateur golf’s long-established, prestige tournaments – the Berkhamsted Trophy is entering its 61st year – has transformed from being a men-only tournament, into one which invites both sexes to compete for the same prize.

From 2020 the traditionally season-opening Berkhamsted Trophy, a 72-hole event on Berkhamsted Golf Club’s bunker-free natural heathland golf course, will feature both male and female competitors.

The club is working on a flexible teeing system which will ensure that both sexes compete on an equal footing.

The event will be eligible for World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) points for both men and women.

The decision has been welcomed by former LET member Elaine Ratcliffe, captain of the 2020 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team. “I applaud Berkhamsted for their forward thinking, and I am delighted to have been asked to help set up the golf to provide an equal test for both men and women during the event” she said.

“I will also help the club to secure as strong a women’s list of participants as possible.”

Christine Foreman, Berkhamsted’s lady captain, said: “This innovative step will be much welcomed by lady golfers far and wide. It will put Berkhamsted at the forefront of modern golf”.

Alexandra Armas, CEO of the Ladies European Tour

And 22-year old Alice Hewson, playing in LET Qualifying School at present and one of Berkhamsted Golf Club’s most successful recent female members after she became the first Englishwoman to play a competitive tournament round at Augusta National, in 2019’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, said: “I am so proud of my home club for embracing equality. I hope the public will come and watch this year’s Berkhamsted Trophy, to see the very best amateur golfers of both sexes on a fantastic golf course.”

“It is unsustainable, in the long term, for golf to continue to keep men and women apart like it has historically done” added Berkhamsted Golf Club captain, Henry Tse.

Club manager Howard Craft said: “We are not afraid to challenge the status quo here. There is a lot of talk in golf about embracing change, but the pace at which things fundamentally change in the sport can be a little slow. We are enthusiastic supporters of The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, and what could be a more shining example of this than allowing men and women to play golf together in competition at the very top of the amateur game, as they naturally do anyway in general play?”

Esther Strous, county development officer of Hertfordshire Golf, said: “Although 2020 will surely give us many moments which showcase equality in golf worldwide, it is truly amazing that this massive step forwards is happening at Berkhamsted Golf Club right here in Hertfordshire.

“That the club has voted to invite elite female golfers to compete on equal terms in its richly historic and nationally significant event – which for six decades has been a men-only tournament – says a lot for the inclusive nature of Berkhamsted. What an exciting time for golf. I expect clubs across the world will now take a look at their own elite events, now that Berkhamsted has set this example.”

The news comes as Alexandra Armas has been confirmed as the permanent CEO of the Ladies European Tour. She had been the acting CEO since October 2019.

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire February 24, 2020 22:19
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1 Comment

  1. Michael February 21, 11:43

    Should be the way forward..

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