The Victoria Open kicks off this week and celebrates its 10th year in a mixed format, and one of the driving forces behind the innovation hailed the role of 13th Beach Golf Links.

The men’s Vic Open dates back to 1957 and the first women’s Vic Open was held from 1988 to 1992, but the administration of both tournaments underwent a major shake-up in 2010.

David Greenhill was at the time one of the interim managing directors of the newly formed Golf Victoria (a merger of the Victorian Golf Association and Women’s Golf Victoria).

Mr Greenhill, who now works in an administrative role for Golf Victoria, said the idea of ​​men and women playing the same courses at the same time for equal money came to him when he was walking his dog late one night, and was inspired by Tony Charlton’s entrepreneurial efforts to promote the Vic Open in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The obvious answer just popped up,” he said.

“I had a great collaborator called Bronwyn Young, who was the former CEO of Women’s Golf Victoria, and I went to work the next day with a one-page summary of what I thought it might look like, and she thought it was a great idea; then we presented it to the interim Golf Victoria board, and they thought it was a great idea; and we took it to the state government, and they thought it was a great idea; so we left and we started, basically.

“It’s been common for years for major tennis tournaments to hold men’s and women’s tandem events – I couldn’t understand why golf hadn’t tried it before.”

The last men’s-only Vic Open was held in 2011, and the new joint format was first held at Spring Valley and Woodlands golf courses in Melbourne in 2012.

13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads has hosted the tournament since 2013 with the exception of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It made sense to hold the event in the same place. The Geelong catchment has a population of 250,000 to 300,000 anyway and there are over 10,000 registered golfers in the Geelong area so we knew we were going for a heavily populated market and a strong golf market said Mr. Greenhill.

“The state government particularly liked the idea of ​​trying to regionalize mainstream sport, so it ticked a lot of the boxes, and no doubt the event grew through the partnership with the city of Greater Geelong, 13th Beach Golf Links, State Government and various sponsors.

“Players love coming to the Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove area for this event every year.

“And the galleries we’ve had there over the years have been absolutely fantastic. The course is not roped in so you can walk with the players…at the Vic Open you can be two feet away from them if you want.

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