Ayla Golf Club in Jordan will host a first-of-its kind Mixed Masters event next April, which will involve European Ladies, Challenge and Senior Tour Players.
The tournament will be held in Aqaba from April 4-6, 2019, and will see a field of 123 players – 40 from each Tour and three amateurs from each division – compete in a single, mixed field, playing off different tees, for a shared prize purse of $395,000 (Dh1.4 million).
Ayla Golf Club will also host the Challenge Tour’s penultimate ‘Road to Rad al Khaimah’ event from October 24-27 this year. The events could be a stepping stone towards Jordan hosting a first European Tour tournament.“I think everybody has that goal,” Chris White, director of operations at Ayla, told Gulf News. “But we have a responsibility as a venue to showcase that type of event in the right way.
“To have a few hundred spectators at a European Tour event doesn’t do it justice. We need thousands and until we get to that critical mass, there are alternative formulas. The success of this could actually mean we introduce the European Tour into it by 2020 or 2021.
“Golf needs innovation, I hate to say it’s in decline but there are stats that say it is. The problem with golf is it takes time and attention. But I think we have a concept and an event that caters to all audiences and all markets.”
White insisted that the event’s universal appeal should make it an obvious value proposition for sponsors looking to reach out to a wider, and more diverse audience.
“The timing of this is important,” he said. “Equality should be the norm. In sport, it is hard for everyone to compete against each other on a level-playing field, but in golf you can.
Players from 3⃣ different Tours all competing in 1⃣ individual strokeplay tournament.
The Jordan Mixed Masters will be the first of its kind! 🇯🇴 pic.twitter.com/UkWW2ZX2t7
— Staysure Tour (@StaysureTour) June 26, 2018
“It’s a huge opportunity for a global brand to have an association with sport, with equal opportunity, open to all, mixed gender events, and a huge opportunity for ‘x’ bank to partner with equal opportunity or this automotive company to drive the future with a mixed sex event,” he added with an eye on now having to find sponsorship.
Nick Tarratt, director of the European Tour’s Dubai Office, added: “Who knows, maybe we can take this model elsewhere around the world.
“In Saudi Arabia women have just started driving, how pioneering is that? And for Chris to have established a tournament [in neighbouring Jordan] where ladies are equal is impressive on a world scene, not just a golf scene.”