Tait’s Take: Let’s have more tournaments like the Scandinavian Mixed

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Tait’s Take: Let’s have more tournaments like the Scandinavian Mixed

Golf

Tait’s Take: Let’s have more tournaments like the Scandinavian Mixed

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Hopefully the 2020 Scandinavian Mixed tournament will become the norm. What could be better than gathering the top players, male and female, on the same course, playing for one prize fund and one trophy?

Not much, and the more it happens the better the game will be, especially if such events feature the top players.

The Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika will take place at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm, Sweden, June 11-14, next year, as in 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson and 10-time major champion Annika Sorenstam. The field will consist of 78 European Tour players and 78 Ladies European Tour players. Prize money is set for €1.5 million ($1.65 million) with the event going to different venues in 2021 and 2022.

“Inclusivity and innovation are two of our key pillars and we are delighted to have global stars in Henrik and Annika leading the way as hosts of the Scandinavian Mixed in their home country of Sweden as we continue to drive golf further,” European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said.

The Canadian promised to mix things up when he took over control of the European Tour in 2015. He’s lived up to his promise and is continuing to push for innovation. Pelley’s introduced different format such as the GolfSixes, the Belgian Knockout, Shot Clock Masters and he hasn’t been afraid to endorse mixed field events.

This year’s Jordan Mixed Open featured players from the Ladies European Tour, European Challenge Tour and European Senior Tour competing for one trophy and one prize fund, with different tees for players from each tour.

Men and women played in the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland in August. While they played on the same courses for equal prize money, there was a men’s and a women’s winner in England’s Jack Senior, and local girl Stephanie Meadow. The LET and European Tour each stage a tournament, the European Tour’s Trophée Hassan II and the LET’s Lalla Meryem Cup, in Morocco in the same week, but not on the same course or for the same prize money.

The Scandinavian Mixed is the first time Europe’s top players from its two main tours go head to head for the same prize money on the same course in a 72-hole stroke play event.

About time, too, say I and many more like me who want to see the increasingly moribund professional game shaken up. The game’s authorities need to do everything they can to attract new players, especially younger players. England alone lost approximately 300,000 club members in a 10-year period between 2007-2017, while the proportion of women and juniors has not really moved in all the years I’ve been reporting on golf.

So, anything that’s different, out of the ordinary has to be good for the game. Why not a mixed-team event, or how about a men’s tournament and women’s event played on the same course at the same time for the same prize money?

Stenson and Sorenstam’s involvement is sure to grab the attention of Swedish golf fans. Stenson’s committed to playing the next three years, while Sorenstam will just play in the pro-am. Pity the Swedish legend isn’t teeing it up in the tournament proper.

Hopefully this type of tournament will spread to different countries. Imagine Rory McIlroy, Charley Hull, Justin Rose, Georgia Hall, Ian Poulter, Bronte Law and other stars from both the European Tour and LET teeing it up in the same event, on the same course for a huge prize fund somewhere in the British Isles? In a Rolex Series maybe? There has to be a sponsor out there willing to put up a $7 million purse to back such a tournament?

So, well done Pelley and company, for mixing things up with the Scandinavian Mixed.

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