Charity and gender equality are at the centre for the Forget Foundation PGA Championship for the LETAS players this week and the Star For Life PGA Championship for the men on the Swedish Golf Tour.
The organizer, who hopes to raise a substantial amount of money for charitable causes, also wishes to strike a blow for a more equal sport, with equal prize money of €40,000 on offer for both the men and women at the PGA Sweden National in Bara. They will also compete on the same golf course for all three rounds, with the women teeing off in the morning and the men in the afternoon, for the first round.
"We are very happy to arrange competitions for both ladies and gentlemen with equal prize money," says Christer Paulsson, CEO of PGA Sweden National. The former Nordea Masters organizer has a great CV for arranging tournaments and is fully aware of the preparations required to host both the women and men on the same golf course.
"We have the organization that manages the facility and the Swedish Golf Tour organisers, which helps us in a very professional way. Then we have volunteers who are invaluable for the accomplishment of these competitions,” Paulsson commented.
"It's not about making money for ourselves, but we want to do something for sport and for charity purposes. The goal is to collect between five hundred and one million Krona. Forget Foundation collects money for research on type 2 diabetes and Star For Life is an education program that strengthens the self-esteem of vulnerable young people in countries such as South Africa and Sri Lanka.”
"The big difference this year is that we arrange a contest for both men and women. I think that model is amazing and it's great to see everyone at the club this week, not just the guys. The union tries to do the 50/50 project for more equal golf, we are very positive and try to contribute from our side. There will be as much prize money in both competitions, we have free entrance and lots of activities for families during the week.”
"The most important thing at the moment is that we focus on raising golf as a popular sport, including the 50/50 effort to make more ladies start playing and playing longer. So we hope to earn a lot of money for charity through our activities. Last year, we raised a million and hopefully we will see similar sums this year too.”
The field of 78 players is led by the current OOM leader, Meghan MacLaren from England. The 23-year-old is hoping to record her third LETAS win and is looking forward to competing alongside the men.
“It’s interesting, I played in Morocco in the LET event when the men and the women were together. I think it just makes it a bit more fun. It’s great for women’s golf to be on the same stage as men’s golf. Even just watching them practice, it’s good for us to see how they can play and its good for them to see how we can play.”
MacLaren and a number of other players had the opportunity to have their photo taken with Open Champion Henrik Stenson yesterday, whilst he was hitting a few balls on the range.
“It was really cool. Just about everyone here had a picture with him so it was really good of him to stop what he was doing. It’s not every day you see the Open champion.”