Last year the Victorian Open debuted a ground-breaking collaboration between the European Tour, the LPGA Tour, the PGA of Australia and Australian Ladies Professional Golf, with men and women playing concurrent tournaments at 13th Beach Golf Club for equal prize money. The format received rave reviews, and returns this week in Geelong, Australia.
However, while there are a handful of mixed-gender events—most notably, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam are set to host the Scandinavian Mixed this June—the approach has yet to receive global acceptance. According to former U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy, it is time golf's governing bodies get with the program.
“There’s more than just guys, you know. It just makes sense," Ogilvy said at the Vic Open. "We should do this more often. The fact that this happens only once in a year is just nonsense.”
Ogilvy, known as one of the premier player-scholars in the game, spoke of experience at last year's event and how it spurred admiration for his female counterparts.
“All I wanted to do was watch the women and how they went about it," Ogilvy explained. "Some of them are just machines, they don’t hit bad shots and they hit hybrids on to the green to 10 feet all day.
“It’s just a different style. There’s something to be learned from both sides and there’s enjoyment in watching both styles of play.”
To Ogilvy, part of the problem is rooted in the game's conservatism, and that perhaps the primary stakeholders are "scared to rock the successful boat they’re riding in.”
“It’s probably just golf being stuck in traditions. You see the Japanese ladies’ tour is a much bigger and more successful tour in Japan than the men’s tour is,” Ogilvy said. “Whenever it’d presented properly, it seems like it’s just as popular. It just needs to have the opportunity. It’s just a bit of creative thinking."
As for the framework, while the execution does present its share of issues, Ogilvy pointed out professional tennis already employs a successful model to replicate. "I know to some people it’s not complete equality but at least they play at the same place and the same time and play for the same prize money in Australia at the matches.”
For what it's worth, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan mentioned in 2018 that it was "Only a matter of time" before the Tour features a mixed event, and earlier on Wednesday, the Guardian reported the World Cup is exploring the possibly of changing the tournament to a mixed format.