Mixed golf event will ‘lead to more interest in women’s golf’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 2, 2019 21:28

The European Tour and Ladies European Tour’s 2020 mixed event in which men and women will go head-to-head on the same course will boost interest in women’s golf, according to new research.

Major champions Henrik Stenson and Annika Sörenstam have said they will host the innovative Scandinavian Mixed tournamentin Sweden next year in which participants will compete for one prize fund and one trophy.

Global measurement and analytics company Nielsen says research shows this will generate significant increased interest in both the men’s and women’s games.

Mark Birchmore

Nielsen’s study, ‘The Rise of Women’s Sports,’ the findings of which are highlighted in a Syngenta Growing Golf podcast, reveals that interest levels in women’s sports are higher when men’s and women’s events are staged together.

Athletics track and field (89 per cent), tennis (86 per cent) and triathlon (81 per cent) are the leading examples of this increased interest phenomenon.

And it is not just women who are interested in women’s sports. Of the 84 per cent of general sports fans who said they were interested in women’s sports, 51 per cent are male and 49 per cent female.

That’s good news for women’s golf, which could have a potential fan base of 52 million, according to Nielsen.

Mark Birchmore, Syngenta global head of marketing, turf and landscape, said: “The Scandinavian Mixed is an important step not just for women’s golf, but for the sport as a whole.

Host of the 2020 Scandinavian Mixed, Bro Hof Slott Golf Club. © Lennart Hyse

“What Nielsen’s research shows – and what leading commentators say in our report – is that combined or parallel men’s and women’s golf events are a massive opportunity. They demonstrate inclusivity and diversity, which is now a societal expectation, and will help move the public perception of golf in a positive direction.”

The inaugural Scandinavian Mixed will feature 78 men and 78 women at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm from June 11-14, 2020 and will be co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Ladies European Tour.

Hosted by Sweden’s most successful male and female golfers for the next three years and with a prize fund of €1,500,000 for the entire field, the tournament will offer Official World Ranking points for both tours, plus Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup points for European Tour members, and Order of Merit points for the Ladies European Tour.

The event will enter a new era next year with Ryder Cup star Stenson confirmed to play the next three years and ten-time Major winner Sörenstam, who retired from competitive golf in 2008, to play in the tournament pro-ams. Swedish golf fans will be able to watch a host of the world’s top male and female golfers in Stockholm next year before the tournament rotates venues in 2021 and 2022.

Henrik Stenson. © Getty Images

“I’m extremely excited to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Annika, one of the best golfers the world has seen, and to have men and women competing alongside one another showcases what is great about our game,” said Stenson, an 11-time European Tour winner.

“The European Tour has been leading the way in terms of innovative formats and I believe this is certainly one that can be part of the way golf is played in the future. Making our game accessible to everyone is something I am extremely passionate about having worked with Fanny Sunesson for a number of years hosting the Stenson Sunesson Junior Challenge in Barsebäck, as well as promoting Paragolf in Sweden through my Foundation, so I am delighted to have this new event for both male and female professional golfers in Sweden.”

Sörenstam added: “I’m delighted to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Henrik in Sweden for the next three years. Bringing women and men together in a combined tournament is exciting for fans in Sweden and for the global game as we continue to showcase golf is a game for everyone.

“Since retiring from competitive golf in 2008, I have dedicated a lot of my time to the ANNIKA Foundation, which hosts seven global events for junior girls each year including the ANNIKA Invitational Europe. This mixed tournament is another way to bring our game to the younger generation in Sweden and for those watching around the world.”

Annika Sörenstam

Keith Pelley, chief executive officer of the European Tour, said: “Inclusivity and innovation are two of our key pillars and we are delighted to have global stars in Henrik and Annika leading the way as hosts of the Scandinavian Mixed in their home country of Sweden as we continue to drive golf further.

“We have been in close collaboration with the women’s game in recent years, not only on the European Tour, but also across the European Challenge Tour and Staysure Tour with events held in Northern Ireland and Jordan. This tournament is the next step for male and female golfers to compete together on one course, for one prize fund, and one trophy.”

Alexandra Armas, acting chief executive officer of the Ladies European Tour, added: “This is a pivotal moment for European golf. This new tournament in Sweden will be an innovative and inclusive new offering which will elevate our sport to the next level and advance gender balance, ultimately showing that golf is a game for all. Sweden has always produced a wealth of world class golfers and we look forward to having a strong field featuring the best Swedish women including major winners and those whom featured in Europe’s sensational Solheim Cup victory last month.”

Björn Örås, founder of Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, said: “We are thrilled Bro Hof Slott Golf Club will host the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed tournament in 2020. Henrik and Annika have done so much over the years promoting golf in Sweden, and they will yet again use our game to bring men and women together on the world stage. We are excited to see some of the stars of the European Tour and Ladies European Tour tee it up at Bro Hof Slott next year.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 2, 2019 21:28
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