The Vic Open has been lauded by many for its concurrent men’s and women’s tournaments and equal prize money, but some women’s players have taken notice of the disparity in yardages. Or lack of.
Women first joined the ISPS Handa Vic Open in 2012, but this year’s edition, played over two courses in Victoria, Australia, this week, is the first time it’s co-sanctioned by the LPGA and European tour. The event consists of two separate tournaments, the men’s and the women’s, taking place over the same courses. The men and women play in alternating groups, so fans can go to one course and see both tournaments unfold at the same time. One issue some players have noticed, however, is that many of the women’s official yardages — the case in 19 of the 36 holes — are the same as the men’s. The men’s total yardage for the week is between 300 and 400 yards longer than the women’s per course.
As Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols points out, the official yardage for the 2014 men’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 was 7,562 yards. A week later for the U.S. Women’s Open on the same course it was 6,649 yards.
“Been a big topic,” Kim Kaufman told Nichols. “They moved us back on both courses 300 to 400 yards. It has worked super well in the past the way it was. Not sure the rationale but hoping/thinking we will be moved on a few. My woods got a workout yesterday.”
One reason this has caused concern for some women is due to the fact that they are playing the same course with the same conditions as the men. Their scores are likely to be compared, yet the clubs they’ll hit on certain holes and into certain greens won’t be nearly the same.
“It’s not that hard,” one woman, who asked not to be identified, told GolfDigest. “All they have to do is set the test up so that we are all hitting the same clubs into the greens. There are some holes out there where I’ll be going in with a hybrid and many of the men will be hitting short irons. To a tight pin, that’s just not fair.”
Despite the issues with yardages, many marvel at the event’s premise, which is a great opportunity for spectators.
“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, the women will be on one course, the men will be on the other,’” said Australian Karrie Webb, who is in the field and shot 73 in her opening round. “The way it is, alternating groups of men and women, I think it’s great for the golf fan that comes to watch because they can watch the best of both men and women and sit on one hole and watch that all day.”