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 Maria Fassi and Jennifer Kupcho were also high, the highest ratings 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 events don’t compete for viewers and even players?
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan addressed the topic on Friday, saying that in 2020, the ANA will remain at its set date. But in years to come, there has been no decision.
“In 2020, ANA will stay in the date it has been,” said Whan. “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.”
Moving the ANA is complicated. Move it forward a week, and you’re up against the Masters, an obvious nonstarter. Move it forward two weeks, and you’re getting into Coachella territory near Rancho Mirage, Calif., where the ANA is played. The huge music festival drives up hotel prices and basically takes over the area. Hosting a golf tournament up against that doesn’t make sense. Moving it back a week, and Mission Hills has a conflict, according to Whan, with the Mission Hills Country Club course that hosts the ANA.
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 being held the same weekend is that top amateurs have to choose which event they’ll play. Five amateurs receive spots in the major each year. With the event happening at the same time as the ANWA, there was some overlap on both events’ lists of invitees.
“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,” said Whan. “Guys have been facing really cool opportunity conflicts for seven 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.”