The ISPS Handa Vic Open is one of the leading Australian golf events where men and women play on the same courses, at the same time, for equal prize money.
In a format unique to world professional golf, the ISPS Handa Vic Open titles are simultaneously staged over 72-holes stroke play at the 13th Beach Golf Links on the Bellarine Peninsula during early February with respective starting fields of approximately 156 players.
The Men's Open has been the pinnacle event in Victorian men's golf since being first played at Riversdale in 1957 with the inaugural title won by Australian golfing legend, Ossie Pickworth.
Many world-famous players have claimed the men’s title including Australia’s five-time British Open winner, Peter Thomson (1958, 1968 and 1973); South Africa’s Gary Player (1959); Bruce Devlin (1962 and 1963); Kel Nagle (1967 and 1969); David Graham (1970); Greg Norman (1984) and Robert Allenby (1991).
The Women's Championship was first played in 1988 but experienced a 20-year hiatus after the 1992 event. In order to provide an equivalent elite event for Victorian women's golf; stimulate participation/promotion of the game to the entire Victorian community and highlight Golf Victoria’s role as the peak body for men’s and women’s golf in the State, the Women's Open title was reintroduced in 2012.
The Championship was simultaneously staged with the Men's Open at the Spring Valley and Woodlands Golf Clubs over 54-holes in January 2012 and was a resounding success.
In 2013, the Championship moved to 13th Beach Golf Links and successfully grew further both in terms of media interest and prizemoney. Both titles were simultaneously conducted on the 36-hole facility and attracted high quality fields and large spectator numbers.
The fields play simultaneously over the Beach and Creek Courses for the opening two rounds. Following a ‘cut’ after the opening 36-holes, the qualifying men’s and women’s players (60 players plus ties for each event) progressed to the third round on Saturday on the Beach course.
The 2018 event again saw the use of a second cut. After the third round, a second cut was implemented to the leading 35 players plus ties (professionals and amateurs) for both men and women allowing for a single ‘wave’ of tee times on the final day.
All rounds of the Championship see alternate groups of men’s and women’s players utilised to start the field, culminating with the leading group of men and leading group of women following each other onto the 18th hole to conclude the Championship on Sunday.
The Men's winner holds the Men's Open Championship Cup for one year while the Women's winner holds the Women's Open Salver. Prize money is played for by Professionals and was increased to $1.5 million each for the Men's and Women's championships in 2019 – a total prize pool of $3 million.