Berkhamsted Golf Club has overturned over 60 years of history to open up its famous Berkhamsted Trophy to male and female competitors for the first time in 2020.
The landmark decision by the Hertfordshire-based club, which has the support of The R&A and England Golf, represents the first time that one of amateur golf’s longest-running prestige tournaments – the Berkhamsted Trophy is entering its 61st year – has transformed from being a men-only tournament, into one which invites both sexes to compete for the same prize.
Entries for the 72-hole event, which takes place over Berkhamsted’s heathland course from April 2-4, are now open to golfers with handicaps of 1 or better, with invitations being sent to a number of elite female players. The club is working on a flexible teeing system that will ensure that both sexes compete on an equal footing. The event will be eligible for World Amateur Golf Ranking points for both men and women.
“It is unsustainable, in the long term, for golf to continue to keep men and women apart like it has historically done,” said Berkhamsted Golf Club’s captain Henry Tse. “Berkhamsted has always been a progressive club, and this decision is a natural evolution not only of that ethos, and but also of the way the modern world works. We will be excited to see men and women compete equally for our beloved Trophy.”
Club manager Howard Craft added: “We are not afraid to challenge the status quo here. There is a lot of talk in golf about embracing change, but the pace at which things fundamentally change in the sport can be a little slow. We are enthusiastic supporters of The R&A’s Women In Golf Charter, and what could be a more shining example of this than allowing men and women to play golf together in competition at the very top of the amateur game, as they naturally do anyway in general play?”
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A said: “The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter is a call to action for everyone involved in golf, from national associations to clubs, to do more to attract women and girls to take up this wonderful sport. There are many different ways in which this can be achieved and we are supportive of initiatives, such as this by Berkhamsted, which encourage women to compete and play golf at all levels of the game.”
Nigel Edwards, England Golf Performance Director and Team GB leader in the 2020 Olympics, said: “As the country’s governing body for male and female amateur golfers, at England Golf we are delighted to support Berkhamsted Golf Club’s forward-thinking initiative in making the prestigious Berkhamsted Trophy a mixed gender event.”
Joss Gosling, the 27-year-old winner of the 2019 Berkhamsted Trophy, will defend his title in April 2020. He said: “I believe strongly in inclusion and equality throughout our game, and I know that the majority of my fellow male competitors feel the same. This is brilliant news, and I welcome Berkhamsted’s decision. The fact that an event as prestigious as the Berkhamsted Trophy has made this change will go a long way in showing people that golf is a game for everyone. I am looking forward to competing, for the first time, against the best female amateur golfers out there. See you all in April!”
And 22-year old Alice Hewson, one of Berkhamsted Golf Club’s most successful recent female members, after she became the first Englishwoman to play a competitive tournament round at Augusta National in 2019’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, said: “I am so proud of my home club for embracing equality. I hope the public will come and watch this year’s Berkhamsted Trophy, to see the very best amateur golfers of both sexes on a fantastic golf course.”