Welcome to golf’s great social experiment.
It’s the Vic Open — short for Victoria as in Australia — The Land Down Under.
ISPS Handa is the sponsor behind this event which has men and women playing the same courses for the same prize money.
Crazy? For sure.
First question — what exactly is ISPS Handa? It’s a Japanese non-profit “International Sports Promotion Society” and the “Handa” is the last name of its chairman — Haruhisa Handa. You’ve seen it as a sponsor for LPGA events.
So they’re on two courses in Victoria at the 13th Beach Golf Club which must be the one down the street from the 12th Beach Golf Club.
It’s not like any big name players showed up for this from either tour although they claim four tours are participating, the two biggest are the European men’s and LPGA.
On the men’s side, former U.S. Amateur champ Nick Flanigan has a share of the 36-hole lead. They play two courses — The Beach and Creek. after an opening 62 on the Beach, Nick cooled down with a 68 on the Beach and he’s tied with fellow Aussie Jason Scrivener. The top five are Aussies, in fact most of the field are from the host nation. Go figure.
James Nitties, who you might remember from The Big Break a few years ago, tore up the Beach course on Thursday with nine straight birdies to set a European Tour record. He finished with 64 but on Friday must have been Up-The-Creek without a paddle on the Creek course. He shot 74.
The names on the women’s side are equally unimpressive, which must be in line with the equal pay deal.
Good news is that American Kim Kaufman is atop that leaderboard. A pair of 66s got her to 13-under par, two shots in front of Japan’s Haru Nomura (67-67) and three clear of Aussie Sue Oh (67-68).
So forget the big names.
You’ve got men and women, playing the same courses, same tournament, same pay.
Good luck with that.