'Where You Play Matters' - Lewis Says Iconic Courses Key To Growing Women's Golf

USA Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis says women's golf has the "biggest opportunity to grow" when playing Majors at iconic courses like Baltusrol and Pebble Beach

USA Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's a huge few weeks for women’s golf with two Major championships being played on iconic courses giving them the chance to showcase their skills in front of a wider audience.

Team USA’s Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis will be one of the most influential figures around in the women’s game, with back-to-back contests against the Europeans in consecutive years giving her a chance to showcase the brightest talent in the game.

While that will keep team golf fresh in the minds of viewers, what is also helping is playing back-to-back Majors at iconic venues with a huge history of playing the biggest events in men’s golf down the years.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship takes place at Baltusrol this week and that will be quickly followed by the US Women’s Open taking place at the iconic Pebble Beach at the start of July.

Playing at such historic venues that viewers are well used to watching the men contest Majors on is a big test for the women’s game, but it’s one that Lewis insists they’re ready for – as they look to take advantage of a great opportunity to grow the popularity of the game.

“I want them to see how good these girls are,” Lewis said of fans watching on at Baltusrol. “I don't think your casual fan is going to know how hard this golf course is.

“But these girls are so good. You could say 10, 15 years ago was our Tour talent-wise ready for a golf course like this? Maybe, maybe not, but these girls are ready for a golf course like this, and they're going to perform great on it.”

Apart from just performing out on these traditional golf courses, Lewis says just having winners of women’s Majors entwined in their history is also a seminal point in the history of the game.

“The biggest thing for me is you walk through that clubhouse, and you see the winners of all these past champions that have won big events here, and it's guys, it's guys, it's guys, and then there's maybe one here of a US Am or something like that,” Lewis added.

“But to just start a history here of women being on those pictures and being around that clubhouse, that's the biggest thing for me of what's changing in women's golf, because we're doing this every year.

“We're doing this every golf course we go play. It's going to happen at Pebble, too. We're changing the history of these golf courses. I'm just glad that the powers that be picked up the phone and said that they were ready for it.”

Majors 'biggest opportunity' to grow women's golf

Lewis says the Majors are the biggest chance women’s golf gets to showcase itself to a wider audience, and having the next two played at Baltusrol and Pebble Beach is huge.

“Our Majors are our biggest opportunity to grow our sport and to grow this Tour. It's when we get the most people watching, the most people here in the media center paying attention.

“These weeks are so, so important, and where you play matters. It matters to the casual fan. It matters to who's watching.”

Lewis' sentiments were echoed by one of the biggest stars in the game, Nelly Korda, who backed up the premise that playing these courses could only be good for the game. 

"When I just walked out here yesterday and I played the front nine, I couldn't believe what kind of condition the golf course was in," said Korda.

"I think that the women's game is really making a step forward where we get to play all these historic venues."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.