That’s the view of Emma Allerton, marketing manager of the Tour, which has re-invented itself, after being written off by some critics, at the end of the 1990s.
After many of its leading players, including former US Open champions Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas, sought their fortunes on the lucrative LPGA and several Swedes, including Annika Sorenstam, made their mark across the Atlantic, the Tour fell into the doldrums.
|Giulia Sergas new star.|
But an exciting crop of English, French, Spanish and Scandinavians have committed themselves to the European scene and are helping to attract huge investment in the Tour.
“With young, stylish, talented players now succeeding, the commercial team is looking to reflect this new dynamic and glamorous image, encouraging interest to spectators, sponsors and media, “ says Allerton. “And now even more tournaments are being negotiated into the schedule together with increases in prizemoney, to retain the quality of players.”
With over two million women in Europe already playing the game and millions of others aspiring to the lifestyle, interest in women's golf is set to rise significantly, she claims. Even the men are taking note.
|Pettersen, Marti and Icher.|
Suzann Pettersen, a tall and talented blonde Norwegian, twice a winner on Tour and this year's 'Rookie of the Year', laid down a challenge when she said recently: "It’s great that we are getting more attention, it's been a long time coming and if we are using our feminine looks to do it, then great.
“We can play too. We don't just pat it up the middle. Some of us like to give it a rip! Sophie Gustafson, Maria Hjorth or Laura Davies and me, willl take on any male amateur golfer that thinks we can't give it a belt!"
But is there a danger that players are more likely to grab headlines for their 'sexy' outfits than their golf? Allerton thinks not.
“Women golfers are becoming increasingly confident in their own ability, image and appearance. These are attractive qualities to which other women relate. Women are wearing clothing they feel reflect the style and preferences of the 21st Century. This can only help to attract new players to the game, especially younger women who have been put off by the outdated image portrayed in the past.”
With added TV coverage the Tour also aims to produce a new lifestyle magazine show. Targeting a feminine audience, with travel, health and fitness, fashion and international cuisine as well as golf.
“Women's tennis became established due to a phenomenon that is now hitting women's golf. In tennis a new breed of, young, attractive, competitive and powerful player has come through and the competition between them has made the game compulsive viewing. We hope women’s golf will follow the same trend,” says Allerton.
Players like Paula Marti, Suzann Pettersen, Karine Icher Samantha Head and Raquel Carriedo, the European number one, are setting a new agenda. They are the future of the tour and it's our job now to build on these players and ensure the success of the tour in future years.”
*Pictures courtesy of Nick Walker