The top 8 mixed golf tournaments and why there are so few of them

Golf is unique among other sports: men and women, young and old, amateurs and professionals can all play together, at the same time and on the same course. Yet, despite this inclusive nature, professional golf is still largely dominated by separate competitions for men and women. So why don’t we see more mixed tournaments at the highest level? If amateurs can enjoy this inclusive dynamic at their Sunday games, why can’t professionals? We are seeing more and more mixed professional tournaments, but is this an exception or a trend towards more mixed tournaments?

Scandinavian Mixed

Created in 2020, the Scandinavian Mixed is a pioneering collaboration between the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour, with Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson as brand ambassadors. Now renamed the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, the tournament usually takes place in June and sees men and women competing on the same course for the same prize pool. The stroke play format is used, meaning that each player plays individually and the total score determines the winner. The Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed has been well received by fans and media alike, attracting a growing audience each year. In fact, the article that BogeyMag published in 2021 always gets a little more attention than usual when this tournament takes place.

Cette année (2024), le Volvo Scandinavian Mixed revient en Suède, avec un mélange unique de talents du DP World Tour et du Ladies European Tour. Cette quatrième édition, organisée au Vasatorps Golf Club, poursuit sa tradition d’inclusion avec 78 hommes et 78 femmes concourant ensemble pour un prix et un trophée uniques. Parmi les anciens gagnants figurent Jonathan Caldwell, Linn Grant, la première femme à remporter un événement DP World Tour, et Dale Whitnell, qui défend son titre cette année.

The Vasatorps Golf Club, with its rich history of hosting professional tournaments, serves as the new venue. Highlights include Seve Ballesteros’ victory in 1978 and Annika Sörenstam’s in 2002. Whitnell’s title defence follows her maiden win last year, despite recent difficulties.

With 25 Swedish players taking part, including prominent names such as Alexander Björk and Madelene Sagström, local support is strong. It’s also an opportunity for the event to focus on sustainability too, with initiatives such as beach clean-ups with local children, water filling stations, the elimination of single-use plastics and a fleet of all-electric courtesy cars. In addition, local teenagers will explore careers in golf through workshops held alongside the tournament.

Vic Open

Although the Vic Open has been around since 1957, it became a mixed tournament in 2012. Co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Ladies European Tour, it usually takes place in February. Men and women play on the same courses, but in separate competitions, with equal prize money. This format has attracted significant media attention, contributing to an increase in audience numbers. The Vic Open shows that equal treatment in golf can attract and captivate a diverse audience, boosting the sport’s appeal.

Jordan Mixed Open

The Jordan Mixed Open, launching in 2019 is the “oldest first mixed tournament”, in the sense that it is the first to be born directly into a mixed tournament. In fact, its mix also extends to age, as in addition to players from the Challenge Tour and Ladies European Tour, players from the Staysure are also taking part. The tournament takes place in April and uses a stroke play format, with a single prize pool for all participants, regardless of gender or category. This unique configuration attracts spectators who are intrigued by this novelty. The Jordan Mixed Open represents a new era in golf, where traditional barriers are lowered to provide an inclusive and competitive spectacle. Like what amateur players can see in club competitions at the weekend.

Aramco Team Series

The Aramco Team Series, created in 2021 and organised by the Ladies European Tour, combines team and individual competitions. These events take place throughout the year and feature teams comprising male and female professionals, as well as amateurs. This innovative format and the attractive prize-money attract large numbers of spectators and generate media coverage on a scale comparable to that of a brand like Aramco. The Saudi brand is investing heavily in golf to ensure an economic future after the oil era.

ISPS Handa World Invitational

The ISPS Handa World Invitational took place in 2023 on the Galgorm and Castlerock courses in Northern Ireland. The tournament brings together the DP World Tour (men), LPGA Tour, and Ladies European Tour (LET) (women), although each tour holds its own tournament with two trophies awarded. Each tournament has a prize fund of $1.5 million. After two rounds, a first cut selects the top 60 male and female players, followed by a second cut to 35 for the final round. This format was used in 2019 at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia.

Saint-Malo Golf Mixed Open

The Saint-Malo Golf Mixed Open, held in July 2019 in Ille-et-Vilaine, France, was a unique mixed tournament in Europe. Organised by the Alps Tour and Letas, it involved as many men as women, playing from respective starting markers. Frédéric Lacroix won the tournament, beating Enrico Di Nitto and Manon de Roey.

We don’t know if Saint-Malo was the front runner for the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, but looking at the dates, it would seem so. After that, who is there first is a detail. The aim is to see more and more tournaments of this kind.

Grant Thornton Invitational

The mixed doubles tournament has historic roots dating back to 1960 with the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome, which became the JCPenney Classic and was discontinued in 1999. Reborn in December 2023, an edition that saw Lydia Ko and Jason Day on the top step of the podium, the Grant Thornton Invitational will take place again this year (2024) from 9 to 15 December at Tiburón Golf Club & The Ritz-Carlton Naples in Florida (USA).

It’s not a long list, but the growing success of these tournaments every year contributes to the efforts of mixed professional golf. In fact, it’s possible that this formula will also be used at the Olympics.

More mixed golf and even at the Olympic Games?

Mixed professional golf tournaments are simply a reflection of what amateur men and women golfers experience on the course. As the sport is predominantly played by men, they want to be able to relate to it when they watch professionals play. A mirror effect that is inevitable. And even if women’s golf is becoming increasingly popular, this obvious mix is a key element of what golf can be: a game in which everyone can play at the same time. It’s just a question of distance. Playing from a back tee won’t make the experience any more enjoyable, and the number of lost balls will only add to the frustration of a swing that can only go 180 metres on the drive.

According to the AP (Associated Press), because of the increasing number of mixed events on the various tours, the organisers of the Olympic Games are thinking of introducing a team event. For the moment, nothing has been confirmed, but if this happens, there could well be more and more mixed events in the future. Golf will finally be able to show that it is not just a men’s sport, with men’s egos swollen to the point where they think that leaving the reds is for women.

Cover photo byKampus Production

About Nicolas BYKOFF

Writing about golf? Why not? After having spent nearly 20 years in the game, I am granting myself the right to write about golf. Don't agree? Contact me.

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