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Last week’s Solheim Cup saw an epic comeback from the USA to snatch the title from under the noses of Team Europe.
But after the dust had settled, no-one was talking about the score, or the key players, or the moments that swung the tie in America’s favour.
All anyone talked about was what happened on the 17th hole during Sunday’s final fourball match. Alison Lee sent a putt just past the hole, before picking it up, expecting it to be conceded in what you might call the ‘spirit of the game.’
However, Suzann Pettersen interjected and said the putt hadn’t been conceded. Europe won the hole and went on to win the match. Cue a huge inquest, led by the media and jumped upon by what seemed like anyone with a social media account.
Now, the point of this blog is not to argue whether Pettersen’s actions were right or wrong. Whichever way you see it, there’s an argument to suggest that the incident is a huge positive for women’s golf and women’s sport as a whole.
Sky Sports said viewing figures doubled after what happened on the 17th green. It was also the Daily Mail’s most clicked story in news and sport online. To put that into perspective this was on the same weekend that England launched the Rugby World Cup and West Ham shocked Man City in the Premier League.
In short, many more people – men and women alike – watched the events unfold and took notice of women’s sport.
Just a few days later, while this was all fresh in the memory, Scotland presented its bid for the 2019 edition of the Solheim Cup, highlighting the way the bid would challenge some of the issues that exist in golf, with a focus on equality, developing a family oriented sport and encouraging more girls to play the game.
It could hardly have been timed any better. With interest levels at their peak, women’s golf has the opportunity to grow the sport by engaging the next generation of female players and, further down the line, coaches. And the job should be made much easier with ready-made role models that younger girls can look up and aspire to, like the star of last week’s show, Britain’s Charley Hull.
The question is, if the controversy never happened, would there be anything like the interest that the sport can now try and take advantage of?
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