With many of the main men’s events this summer in the books, we now turn our focus to the upcoming women’s calendar.
And, naturally, the chief focus in Australia will be the flagship ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open from February 19-22.
It’s a tremendous honour for Golf Australia to return to Royal Melbourne – and indeed on to the club’s famous Composite Course that has rarely been played in women’s competition.
We are only now getting our breath back from the last time we ventured to Royal, when Jessica Korda won that remarkable six-way playoff in 2012 that helped break crowd and viewership records and give women’s golf the profile it so richly deserves.
It’s easy to forget that the Women’s Australian Open wasn’t even played in 2005 or 2006 for various reasons.
But with the support of the Victorian Government and our venture to the Sandbelt began in 2008, we haven’t looked back.
Bar a visit to Royal Canberra for the club’s centenary in 2013, we have moved around the famous Melbourne courses and watched the tournament expand to its current thriving state.
With the LPGA an active partner since 2012, we have grown this tournament to annually attract the best-ranked fields in the country.
In fact, in many ways, it’s this tournament that has become the shining light annually on the Australian tournament calendar, whether it be men’s or women’s events.
In ISPS Handa, we have a proud and supportive naming rights sponsor and with the continued investments of the Victorian government and faith from the LPGA, there is no reason the Women’s Australian Open can’t become a permanent feature on the global golf calendar.
We are ideally placed – both timing wise and geographically – to become part of the LPGA’s Asian swing and we think that with the exposure around the world that great courses such as Royal Melbourne give us the added bonus of being able to generate world-class fields every year.
And it’s a long time since any tournament in Australia has been able to boast that.