Barty golf to grace New York
Former world number one tennis player Ash Barty wants her next sporting adventure – on the greens and fairways – to inspire female golf growth globally.
The 25-year-old Australian will play alongside the likes of major winners Ernie Els and Fred Couples, Olympic great Michael Phelps, England football captain Harry Kane and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey in June and July.
The Icons Series is then set to take the contestants, competing in a 10-hole USA v Rest of the World match play format, to Australia, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
"I hope through my participation in the series that we can encourage more women and girls to participate in golf around the world," Barty told the Sydney Morning Herald.
ROTW captain Els added: “It’s always great to see innovations that bring new audiences to golf.”
Barty retired from tennis in March after winning three grand slams, most recently lifting the Australian Open crown in January.
The talented sportswoman has also played cricket professionally for Brisbane Heat during the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season, either side of two stints in tennis.
“Erratic, it can be good, but it’s always very fun,” was how Barty described her golf game in three words to Golf Australia, at a golf event in her native Queensland last year.
“I enjoy coming out, just going for a walk, getting out in nature and taking it all in.”
Barty’s participation in the series comes as numbers of female golf membership demand decreased by 1% in 2020/21 in Australia.
Jeff Blunden, Managing Director at Golf Business Advisory Services, told Syngenta that during the Covid pandemic many men aged 18-45 took up golf with football not a possibility, which impacted on the numbers of female golfers.
“Historically we’ve been at 80/20 male/female mix but new demand during Covid was 90/10,” he said via email.
Further statistics Blunden shared with Syngenta from February's Golf Club Participation Report highlighted the average female member was aged 64.3 years, compared to 55.3 for men.
While golf could boast a 31% participation change in 2020/21 from 2018/19, new blood is needed and Barty’s potential career change could be a much-needed shot in the arm.
Although she sees the sport as more of a hobby, her family’s golfing genes are a good omen.
Barty’s father Robert represented Australia as an amateur while she told Australian Golf Digest her mother was another great role model growing up.
"Golf has always been a sport that’s come quite naturally to me. I mean, even my mum was a very, very good golfer herself and her whole family loves to play. I guess if there was one sport that’s truly in the Barty genes, it’s probably golf, more so than tennis."
Barty won the Brookwater Golf and Country Club championship in 2020 playing off 3.9, impressing men’s winner Louis Dobbelaar, a twice Queensland amateur champion.
“I’ve seen quite a lot of golfers come from different sports, and she’s the one that stands out the most. Her ball-striking’s really good. She just gets that naturally from tennis, the hand-eye stuff.”