CHASKA, Minn. — The 2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur was a huge success, so much so that the conversations about it overshadowed the LPGA's first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, which was being played simultaneously. The TV ratings of the dynamic duel between Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi were also the highest that a women's golf event earned since 2016. In the wake of the powerful event, the question arose: Should the ANA move its date so the two tournaments don't compete for viewers—or even players?
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan addressed the topic on Friday, saying that in 2020, the ANA will remain at its set date. But there has been no decision on the long-term future.
"In 2020, ANA will stay in the date it has been," Whan said. "Still not ready to commit that that's the long-term answer to ANA, but it's definitely the answer both this year and next year. I'm very open in admitting it wasn't as great a media year or television ratings year as we've had in the past there."
Changing the date of the ANA is complicated. Delay it a week, and you're up against the Masters, an obvious nonstarter. Wait two weeks, and you're going to be to conflict with the Coachella music festival near Rancho Mirage, Calif., where the ANA is played. Coachella drives up hotel prices and basically takes over the area. Hosting a golf tournament against that becomes problematic. Play it a week earlier than the usual schedule, and Mission Hills Country Club, which hosts the ANA, has a conflict, according to Whan.
But Whan is optimistic about the situation. For one, having women's golf be a big topic of conversation is a positive thing. And he talked about the potential for the combination of the two events to be a great "celebration" of women's golf.
Another topic of discussion that has arisen with the ANA and ANWA held the same weekend is that top amateurs have to choose which event they'll play. Five amateurs receive spots in the ANA each year, but to play means those invitees couldn't participate in the ANWA, and creates a difficult decision.
"I'm not sure that's a terrible thing if you're one of the best amateur golfers in the world and that's your choice," Whan said. "Guys have been facing really cool opportunity conflicts for several years. It's kind of cool if we start having some women conflicts."
"I don't know what I would have chosen as a 20-year-old female," Whan continued. "Probably would have mattered what I thought the next year had in store."