'That's What We're Going To Drive Towards' - Slumbers Targeting Bigger Crowds For AIG Women's Open

Martin Slumbers wants the tournament to attract attendances of 250,000 in the future

Martin Slumbers talks to the media before the AIG Women's Open
Martin Slumbers has set out an ambitious attendance target for future editions of the AIG Women's Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

CEO of The R&A Martin Slumbers has outlined an ambitious attendance target for future editions of the AIG Women’s Open.

Last year’s event at Muirfield in Scotland attracted over 30,000 fans, but while this year’s tournament at Walton Heath has sold considerably more tickets than that, Slumbers is setting his sights higher still.

Speaking to the media before the Major, he said: “I would love this event to have a quarter of a million people watching. I think it would be fantastic and it's exactly what the players deserve. It's what women's golf deserves.”

Slumbers also revealed that AIG would extend its sponsorship of the tournament until 2030 and confirmed this year’s event will have a record purse of $9m. However, while those are encouraging signs for the tournament and the women’s game in general, he reiterated the need to attract more fans to the tournament.

He said: “I picked 250,000 as sort of a number out of the sky. But yes, we do need to have bigger crowds. It is the single most important piece of making women's professional golf financially sustainable, both for event day and for media values and rights fees, to have more people watching, more people attending, and that's what we're going to drive towards.”

One of the initiatives for this year's event is a Fan Festival, and Slumbers said that had helped boost ticket sales this year. 

He explained: "We wanted to attract families, and we wanted to attract young girls who not necessarily play golf but who want to come and have a good evening, good day, and spend time here. What we needed to do is create that family-centered environment, and that's what we've tried to do here.

“We are going to be around 50,000 for the week, which is up from just over 30,00 last year, so that's a fantastic achievement. It's a credit to that. It's a credit to being near London. It's a credit to this wonderful golf course.”

Slumbers also believes the tournament should have media coverage comparable to the men’s Open. He explained: “I would love to get to a point where I show opening tee shot to final shot in the afternoon. That’s what I would like to show, and that’s the goal long term.

“We will have seven hours a day here. That’s the biggest we’ve ever had, through Sunday, and obviously Sunday right through to the final putt when we have the Champion. But the next big gap to close after that would be the media coverage to be opening tee shot to final putt on Sunday.”

The tournament begins on Thursday with an opening tee time of 6.30am BST.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.