By Andrew Frackowski
Our Women's Australian Open returns to Royal Adelaide Golf Club (RAGC) from February 16-19 for the first time since 1994.
The most successful player in history Annika Sorenstam held the trophy aloft over two decades ago taking home part of the $150,000 prizemoney in a dominant display.
Twenty-three years on and the prizemoney's reached US$1.3m along with record crowds reaching 30,000 over the four days.
This year the Royal Adelaide Golf Club are set for one of their biggest events yet as they celebrate their 125th year milestone.
General Manager Andrew Gay said preparation for the event started back in 2015 when they won the rights to host it in 2017.
“We started work two years ago as soon as the announcement was made that Adelaide had won the rights to host the Womens Australian Open for three years," he said.
"At that stage we had Brain Slawnik, from Renaissance Golf Design, spend several weeks at the club making a number of minor improvements to the course.
“We knew that during 2017 we would be unable to undertake any course works so we embarked on an ambitious list of projects during 2016.
“Nathan Bennett and his team were busy getting this finished by mid-2016 after which time they could start focusing on course presentation."
RAGC will have extra course staff during the event with a number of these coming from local golf clubs along with extras arriving from Victoria.
"These events offer a great opportunity for staff from other clubs to gain experience, not necessarily available at their club, and valuable to their ongoing career development." Gay continued.
"We will also be engaging over 30 additional food and beverage staff, a number of which are being provided by the Stadium Management Authority."
It's no secret the players enjoyed their time so much in Adelaide last year that they have already committed for 2017.
World number one and two Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn along with number eight ranked Brooke Henderson all confirming a return to Adelaide next month.
Gay explained it is an exciting time for the club to showcase its world class facilities.
"The ISPS Handa Womens Australian Open with its large international field including many of the world’s top female golfers will be broadcast into over 220 million households internationally,” Gay confirmed.
"This international exposure is a fantastic vehicle to showcase South Australia, Adelaide and our great golf courses.
"The club is celebrating its 125th year in 2017 so this history and tradition plus the quirkiness of having a train line and the entrance driveway through the 18th fairway make the experience somewhat unique.
“In addition, the course layout gives players a huge variety of holes, testing golfers of all abilities."
The General Manager also believes we will see a course record set over the event and he also gives some advice to be successfully on the challenging course.
"The unseasonal weather conditions this year has meant the rough has continued to grow later into the year than usual giving us longer and lusher rough than normal for February.” he concluded.
"Keeping out of this lush rough will vastly improve your chances of scoring well."
Images- Andrew Frackowski