Pathways crucial for women's golf: Webb

Karrie Webb says golf has to prioritise building pathway opportunities for talented young female athletes.

KARRIE WEBB
KARRIE WEBB Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Australia's greatest female golfer Karrie Webb admits she might never have taken up the sport seriously had she been presented with the many options now on offer.

The 45-year-old winner of an Australian record seven majors is now more a part-time touring professional.

Webb teed it up just nine times in both 2018 and 2019 while devoting more time to family and her golf-course design business.

But she has again made room on her schedule for the $1.5 million Vic Open which begins on Thursday at 13th Beach.

Among the favourites to win the women's title is Hannah Green, a former Karrie Webb scholarship holder who followed in the footsteps of her mentor by winning her first major last year at the Women's PGA Championship.

Making it even more special was that Green and fellow Australian Su Oh shared a house with Webb and the 2019 scholarship holders throughout the week at the Women's PGA.

"Last year's experience was kind of the ultimate for the Karrie Webb Series," Webb said on Wednesday.

" ... For that to happen and then Hannah to lead wire to wire and win was just an incredible experience.

"Probably the worst job I've ever done of mentoring was I celebrated like I won and I probably wasn't the best mentor that night, but I did show them how to celebrate the right way."

Webb said golf needed to continue providing pathway opportunities to talented young sportswomen, especially with the giant strides taken by other sports such as cricket, Australian rules football and soccer in recent years.

"I was a sports-mad kid, but all my sports heroes were men because there were no women on TV," she said.

"One of my aspirations if I wasn't a professional golfer was to play cricket for Australia.

"Even though women's golf wasn't that much of a visible thing, I knew it existed, whereas women playing cricket for Australia wasn't visible at all when I was growing up.

"So I think of myself as a 10, 11-year-old girl - if I was watching TV now, would I have gone for golf?

"There's so many more options and that's why golf has to create these pathways and create more visibility."

Webb is a huge fan of the innovative format of the Vic Open, where the men and women play alongside each other on the same courses for equal prize money.


AAP