AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 4 (Reuters) - Augusta National Golf Club opened its competitive doors to women on Wednesday, announcing it would host a women’s amateur championship the week before next year’s U.S. Masters.
Making his first State of the Masters address, club president Fred Ridley said the world’s most exclusive golf club, that had barred women from membership until six years ago, would welcome the world’s top amateurs to compete for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.
“(Club founders) Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts left behind a legacy of always trying to contribute meaningfully to the game of golf,” Ridley said.
“The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship embodies that principle, and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women’s game.
“Our hope and expectation is that this event will further energise those who already love the sport and inspire others through the dream of competing at Augusta National.”
The 54-hole, stroke play tournament will feature an international field of 72 players. Invitees will be determined by awarding spots to winners of other recognised championships and using the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
The first two rounds will take place at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. After a cut to the low 30 scores, the final competitive round will take place at Augusta National on Saturday, April 6, when an amateur champion will be crowned for the first time ever at the home of the Masters.
Ridley said he expected the tournament to be televised and will be distributed on digital platforms around the world. (Editing by Toby Davis)