Peter McEvoy, a former World No. 1 amateur, was 100 percent the right person with whom to discuss Linn Grant’s recent achievement in winning on the DP World Tour. Not that anyone should need any reminding, Grant is the 22-year-old Swede who finished nine ahead of Henrik Stenson and Marc Warren and 14 strokes clear of her sister players in the Scandinavian Mixed at Halmstad GC.
Though the women were playing for the same prize money as the men – Grant walked away with $360,000 – there were a few caveats. On the one hand, neither sex was allowed to pocket the other tour’s Order of Merit points, while the same applied with exemptions. In the case of the latter, Grant did not have the option of accepting a two-year exemption to play on the men’s DP World Tour any more than Stenson or Warren, had either of them won, would have been able to switch to the women’s circuit.
The inevitable has happened since that historic day, with one man after another claiming that the women were given an unfair advantage off the Halmstad tees. Almost at once, those who did not have a problem with the result were able to say that the critics had got that wrong. If anything, the men had been marginally the better-placed in that there were seven holes where they were hitting the shorter irons into the greens to the women’s six.
(For an excellent chart put together by the National Club Golfer’s Hannah Holden, click HERE.)
Away from the chart, Holden showed an array of male Tweets, one of which, from a Peter Twigg, conceded that the 22-year-old Grant had played brilliantly before suggesting that it was as if the men had run 100 metres and the women only 80 metres. “So please,” he said, “don’t insult people’s intelligence by saying she beat the men. Next year, let her play off the men’s tees.”
McEvoy and I had a different idea. What would happen if a good male professional from the DP World Tour were allowed to play in an LET tournament and hit from the ladies’ tees. Would he win every time?
McEvoy, who has run the Peter McEvoy Trophy for 40 years and made it a mixed affair last year, liked the question in so far as that no-one was going to be in a position to ruin the ensuing chat with some computer-generated statistics.
“If,” he began, “you had asked me that prior to what happened at Halmstad, I would have said the men would win almost every time. But with Linn Grant playing as well as she did, and hitting as far as she did, I’m thinking a bit differently.
“If the event was being played over a lush, parkland course, I think the man would win 90 percent of the time. If, though, it was being played on a links with the ball running, I think it would go down to 60 percent.
“Obviously the man would hit farther, but there would be so much more to it than that. The pressure on him would be huge. I for one wouldn’t want to be that man.”
When Dean Robertson, who coaches the Stirling University golfers was asked to take on the women’s squad five years after he had started with the men, his first move was to turn the two squads into one. It worked for both parties.
The players – men and women – are never going to be wholly in favour of mixed golf. For the men, it’s embarrassing if they lose while, for the women, it can’t be much fun when some of the men’s more snide comments get back to them. They must wonder if these events are worth the hassle – and never mind that the public love them.
McEvoy did not mind saying that the men weren’t best pleased in last year’s Peter McEvoy Trophy when women finished first, second and third. “In fairness,” said McEvoy, “we didn’t get the tees right on that occasion. It might take a few more years for us to arrive at what works in an amateur context and what doesn’t.”
For another example of where boys didn’t take well to being beaten, you do not have to look any further than the 2009 Duke of York’s Young Champions at Dundonald when Moriya Jutanugarn came out on top.
Since political correctness was hardly mandatory 13 years ago, it did not take long to find a boy who was happy to say precisely what he was thinking. “You’re always,” he snarled, “going to get the odd rogue result.”
When Dean Robertson, who coaches the Stirling University golfers was asked to take on the women’s squad five years after he had started with the men, his first move was to turn the two squads into one. It worked for both parties. The women started hitting farther and the men started to follow the girls’ example in keeping up to date with their studies. As to whether the boys objected to losing to the girls in more than the occasional practice exercise, Robertson said that the boys had learned to cope.
In the wider world, some male golfers have obviously learned better than others.
So to all those men who think that they would win every time if they were to play in a LET event from the ladies’ tees, please feel free to get in touch.
Judging from what McEvoy had to say – “I wouldn’t want to be that man” – we might not get too many replies.
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