How Likely Is A Women’s Masters?

There have been calls for a women’s equivalent of the Masters. But how likely is that to happen and what are the practical obstacles to overcome?

Rose Zhang hits a golf shot at Augusta National
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many people may ask whether it is time to have a Women’s Masters. After all, there is a Women’s US Open, Women's PGA Championship and the Women’s Open.

So how about a female version of another of golf’s iconic events? Augusta National has not ruled it out, but says it has no plans to institute such an event.

Augusta National admitted its first two women members only in 2012. Augusta's membership is not publicly discussed, but the club did announce their first lady members. It was “a proud moment, a significant and positive time in our club's history,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said at the time.

One reason why a Women’s Masters is not currently on Augusta's agenda is that the club is protective of a nascent tournament that it runs, the Augusta National Women's Amateur.

This event debuted in 2019, a 54-hole strokeplay event. A practice round is played at Augusta National; the first two tournament rounds at Champions Retreat Golf Club. The 72-strong field is then cut to 30 for the final round, which is played at Augusta National a week before the Masters.

The Augusta National Women’s Amateur has attracted positive media coverage, not least because of the quality of the play. Inaugural winner Jennifer Kupcho played the final six holes in five under, including an eagle on 13 in 2019. For this eagle she was awarded a set of crystal goblets, just as players in The Masters are. Kupcho went on to make her Solheim Cup debut in 2021.

Jennifer Kupcho celebrates

Jennifer Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2019

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Then in 2021, Japan's Tsubasa Kajitani won the title in a playoff at the age of 17, showcasing her incredible potential on the world stage.

Part of the club’s DNA is support of amateur golf. It was after all co-founded by Bobby Jones, one of the finest amateur golfers ever. Augusta National and the Masters Tournament is heavily involved with both the Asian Amateur Championship, now known as the Asia-Pacific Amateur, and the Latin America Amateur Championship.

Those amateur events have seen the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Guan Tianlang, Takumi Kanaya and Joaquin Niemann qualify to tee it up in the Masters.

Hideki Matsuyama wins the silver cup at The Masters in 2011

2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama won the low amateur honours in 2011 after victory at the 2010 Asian Amateur Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The ANWA maintains the club’s traditional ethos while branching out to support women’s golf. Holding a Women’s Masters would raise the profile of the women’s professional game, but at the expense of the women’s amateur game.

Another part of the DNA of Augusta National is exclusivity. This runs throughout everything it does. For example, when the club opened an online shop in November 2020 it was limited to patrons only, and even then they could only buy two items. Less is more in Augusta National’s eyes.

So would they hold three high-profile tournaments a year? Unlikely. Moreover when could they hold it? The club is keen to showcase its course at it finest, using dye in the water and all the rest of it. This is in April when the blooms are out. It is no coincidence that the women’s event is played the week before the Masters.

The course also closes from May to October due to the oppressive heat of the Georgian summer. But maybe after the success of the 2020 November Masters, it could open up another acceptable date on the Augusta National calendar? Perhaps that will be the time to have a Women’s Masters? Perhaps.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.