Mixed golf is great and, in my mind, there’s not enough of it, either at amateur or professional level. I was pleased to see the news last week that Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson are pairing up for the new mixed-team event, the Grant Thornton Invitational, at the beginning of December.
There will be 16 LPGA and 16 PGA Tour players competing over 54 holes for an equal prize purse of $4m and Fowler and Thompson are the fourth pairing confirmed, along with Nelly Korda and Tony Finau, Sahith Theegala and Rose Zhang and Canadian golfers Corey Conners and Brooke Henderson.
This is the first time the men’s and women’s US tours have combined for an annual mixed-team competition since 1999, when John Daly and Laura Davies won the final edition of the JCPenney Classic. What has taken them so long? But let’s not forget Europe’s Scandinavian mixed event, hosted by Annika Sorenstam, which had its third edition earlier this year, and is proof that men and women can compete alongside and against one another for the same trophy.
Now, I realize that playing professional mixed golf for big bucks is very different to playing in a bank holiday Texas scramble for a bottle of wine! However, it’s brilliant to see inclusivity showcased and how golf really is a game for all.
Working in the golf industry, over the years I’ve played a lot of mixed golf, often because I’ve been one of the few women playing, but I genuinely enjoy it. I know that’s not the case for all women or men, but that’s because most of us have been infrequently introduced to the idea due to the historical nature of golf club culture. It’s generally always men’s golf or women’s golf and not much in between!
Without mentioning names, I know a woman who intended to join a golf club, but she was categorically told at her interview that she would be expected to play with members of the ladies’ section rather than the male friends who had proposed her. Needless to say, she chose not to join that particular club. “She’s not a woman’s woman,” is something I’ve also heard as a derogatory remark about another female golfer who simply enjoys playing golf in mixed company. There’s nothing wrong with that, she’s probably a woman’s woman too, and it certainly doesn’t mean she’s a man-eater!