JEDDAH: Women’s golf in Saudi Arabia needs to keep building on its massive momentum, according to Ladies European Tour chief executive officer Alex Armas.
Armas was speaking ahead of the return of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund from Nov. 4 to 7. The tournament made history last year as the first professional women’s sport event to be staged in Saudi Arabia.
The individual event helped restart the LET season, which had come to a complete halt during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, impacting its professional players. The tournament returns to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.
“The reaction we got last year blew everyone’s mind,” said Armas.
“We didn’t think we were going to get the interest we did from it being on live terrestrial TV within Saudi and the coverage it received. It just made sense to come back to do it again and to keep building on that and I think that is what we will be doing going forward. Golf Saudi has big plans for the women’s game. Although we’re only at the beginning, it’s been a fast trajectory.
“Last year golf stopped. Our players weren’t competing. We managed to get some momentum and we managed to have the first event in Jeddah with the Aramco Saudi Ladies International and as we had the players there, we did the back-to-back tournaments with the team event.
“We made history and I think we didn’t know what to expect when we went the first time, but now the players know, we know what the golf courses will be like, and what the hospitality will be like — everyone is looking forward to being back.”
The Aramco Team Series — Jeddah will follow from Nov. 10-12 at the same venue, for a doubleheader of LET-sanctioned events alongside Golf Saudi.
The success of the Aramco Team Series, which has taken place in London, Spain, and the US, has put a spotlight on the challenges of international women’s sport and addressing gender equality in golf.
Armas added: “There is a challenge in women’s sport. We don’t get the coverage of the men but there is a shift in that and the equality movement and the corporate companies are realizing there is an imbalance. We need to showcase them and their stories and incredible journeys. We still have a long way to go. People don’t realize what good athletes these women are and if they don’t get to see that they don’t understand that. They can compete. They are as good athletes as the men.”
Armas also referenced the importance of elite women’s sport being visible to inspire active participation in growing sporting markets such as Saudi Arabia. Last year’s events coincided with the launch of the Ladies First Club powered by Aramco — a free-golfing initiative that saw 1,200 women and girls register to learn the game over the tournament’s four days.
Armas said: “I think it’s hugely important because across the globe, we need to get the population more active and involved in sports.
“I think the best way to do that is obviously through live sports on TV and for people to be able to become inspired by these athletes and look up to them as role models. Having so many sporting events of the quality that Saudi is bringing to the Kingdom will be hugely important to growing participation in various sports. The amount of people that signed up for the Ladies First Club and the amount of positive feedback was immense.”
Tickets for both tournaments at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City are available now, free of charge.
For more information, visit www.aramcoteamseries.com