As Carnoustie welcomes back the AIG Women’s Open from August 19-22 this summer, it’s the perfect chance to take a look at how women’s golf has progressed over the past decade.
After all, it’s been 10 years since Carnoustie last hosted this major championship – so what has changed since then?
The R&A group of companies was formed in 2004 to take on The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews’ responsibilities for governing the Rules of Golf and support activities that benefit the sport of golf.
This includes championing women in golf, which is an important activity for the organisation.
In fact, in 2017 The R&A merged with the Ladies Golf Union. It now has governance over women’s golf and is responsible for delivering the AIG Women’s Open.
Following on from this merger, in 2018 The R&A unveiled the Women in Golf Charter to increase women’s and girls’ participation in golf, as well as encouraging more opportunities for women to work or volunteer in the industry.
So far, almost 1,000 organisations have signed up to the Charter and joined the drive to develop a more inclusive culture in golf.
To further unite the industry behind this goal, The R&A launched the #FOREeveryone campaign in 2020.
This campaign is a co-ordinated approach from The R&A, national associations in Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I), the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and other stakeholders in the sport aimed to increase the participation of women and girls in golf and to positively impact the culture of golf, to make the sport a more welcoming opportunity for women and girls.
The campaign will encourage clubs and organisations to sign up to the Women in Golf Charter and work towards the achievement of their own ‘Charter Commitments’.
#FOREeveryone calls for a forward-thinking approach which drives tangible change across the industry; enhancing gender diversity, addressing participation decline and improving the financial prosperity of facilities and organisations for the good of the game.
Jackie Davidson, Assistant Director of Golf Development at The R&A, commented:
The R&A believes we need to welcome and embrace more women within the golf industry.
The Women in Golf Charter is our call to the industry to join us in this belief.
It is very positive that we now have almost 1,000 Charter signatories and now the #FOREeveryone campaign will help the golf industry take action and deliver on its Charter commitments.”
The R&A, as part of its commitment, continues to enhance the AIG Women’s Open’s status as a leading major sporting event.
In August 2020 , they announced a line-up of world-class venues for the Championship through to 2025 including Carnoustie 2021, Muirfield 2022, Walton Heath 2023, St Andrews 2024 and Royal Porthcawl 2025.
Welcome back Popov!
Last year’s AIG Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov has quite the story!
She battled against the odds (including a bout of ill health which was eventually diagnosed as Lyme disease), to claim the title in 2020.
Despite nearly being on the brink of giving up the sport entirely and ranking 304th in the world at that time, her success at Royal Troon saw her become an inspiration to many.
On International Women’s Day earlier this year, Sophia Popov told aigwomensopen.com: “To be a woman in golf has become something very special. […] I am so happy for every girl that is choosing to play golf or any other sport nowadays, because I think it’s going to be very special down the road, and the future holds so much for all these girls coming into sport.”
This year, Popov will not only be defending her title – she’ll be doing so at Carnoustie, where she made her major championship debut in 2011.
Popov told aigwomensopen.com earlier this year:
“I love Carnoustie. It’s an incredible course. Carnoustie was the site of my first Women’s Open, so I have great memories there playing as an amateur and I love that place. So it really doesn’t get any better than that.”
It’s been quite the journey for Popov over the past 10 years, and she’s sure to have lots of support on her return to Carnoustie.
While this year’s venue has a special significance for Popov’s career, Carnoustie Golf Links is also a renowned venue that has long held an important role in women’s golf.
While August will be the second time the Championship has taken place at Carnoustie, the Championship course has also hosted the likes of The Women’s Amateur Championship.
Colin Yule, Chair of Carnoustie Golf Links commented: “I am delighted to welcome the AIG Women’s Open back to Carnoustie in 2021.
“The event was a tremendous success in 2011 and I regard it as a privilege to host the championship and look forward to seeing the world’s top players face the challenge of Carnoustie once again.”
Tickets for the AIG Women’s Open 2021 at Carnoustie are on sale and can be booked in advance online.