Women’s golf ‘needs attention’

2011-11-15 13:26

There are problems in local women’s golf that need to be addressed, according to Sally Little, South Africa’s only female Major winner.

Little, who played in the Gary Player Invitational at Zimbali Country Club at the weekend, said she was concerned that there was no competitive tour for women in the country.

“For me it’s very disappointing that in this marvellous country we [women golfers] don’t have some sort of tour,” Little said.

Reports that funds for women’s golf had been misused in the past further highlighted that serious attention needed to be paid to the sport which, according to Little, had plenty potential.

Five SA men – Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel – have won six Major titles between them since 2001, with the Sunshine Tour churning out some of the best golfers in the world every year.

Little, who won the LPGA Championship in 1980 and the Canadian Women’s Open in 1988, believed the time had come to back the female players with a local tour of their own. “It’s unfortunate, with the things that have happened in the last three or four years, that there is no tour,” she said.

“Our young kids need to see our players, so we need to start up a tour again in this country, where the Lee-Anne Paces of the world get a chance to play in her homeland.”

Little said South Africa had some of the best female golfers, proven by the success of players like Pace, Ashley Simon and Stacey Bergman on the Ladies European Tour’s (LET) order of merit.

She was concerned that fringe players who did not make it out on the LET were forced to return home where they needed to find an alternative source of income.

“You have to understand those players would be so much better if they had regular competition,” Little said. “The concept of wanting to be a top player, and not having that opportunity, is not right, but it can change.”

Little insisted South Africa had the potential to host events which would increase revenue. She said the staging of an LET event would be the first step in promoting the sport.

“We need some good sponsors, we need to grow the game and it needs to be in the women’s market as well, not only in the boy’s market,” she said.

Lee-Anne Pace, who picked up five wins on her way to the LET money title last year, believed it was time a tour was set up, and predicted the top women players would all come to South Africa.

“If you don’t finish in the top 50 in Europe, you’re definitely struggling, and that’s where we need some tournaments in South Africa to come back to, and also to practice,” said Pace.

“The thing is, all the Europeans will definitely come and play here because it’s the off-season. “Before or after Australia, they will definitely come, and maybe it can be even bigger, and part of the LET. People are just a bit wary, but hopefully that will change.”

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