By Kent Gray
By bringing together professionals from the men’s European Challenge and Staysure (senior) Tours and Ladies European Tour, the inaugural Jordan Mixed Open is indeed a global trailblazer. The 54-hole, mixed gender strokeplay event at Ayla Golf Club next April is also, by its very nature, a head-scratcher for organisers.
How do you set up Greg Norman’s new, 7512 yard, par-72 layout on the shores of the Red Sea so it is an equitable challenge for the diverse field of 123 players, made up of 40 members of each tour and one leading amateur from the mens, ladies’ and over-50s’ games?
Representatives from the three co-sanctioning tours believe they solved the set-up conundrum after a recent site visit to the Aqaba resort.
Simon Higginbottom, a Staysure Tour and Challenge Tour Tournament Director, admitted the inaugural Jordan event presents “some challenges regarding course set up.”
“With its design emphasis on proper playing angles, strategy and firm ground conditions, the course at Ayla is well suited to the mixed format and will, with our carefully managed tee and pin positions, provide all three categories of player with the ability to score well,” Higginbottom said.
Davide Lantos, the LET’s Director of Tournament Operations, concurs, and knows the set-up is critical for the April 4-6 event. Careful attention was paid not only to the length of the course facing each competitor but the angles of play as well, ensuring, where possible, bunkers and water hazards have an equal impact.
Related: Unique trophy for trailblazing Jordan Mixed Open unveiled
“The Jordan Mixed Open presented by Ayla, which will be played in the cradle of modern civilisation, is a great opportunity to showcase all that is great about women’s golf,’ he said
“In a world that is beginning to recognise the importance of gender equality, this unique format and event could not have been better timed.
“The real challenge for us is in preparing the course and in ensuring the correct format of play so that our male and female professionals can compete on the same course with the same chance to score well. We are sure that this will be a challenging but enjoyable tournament for players and an exciting and engaging event for spectators.”
Chris White, Director of Operations at the Ayla Oasis Development Company, cannot wait for April.
“Both representatives from the Tours gave very positive feedback on our projected vision for the golf course set-up and we are confident that we will be able to establish a format which encourages exciting play and will see all players given an equal chance of being crowned our inaugural champion.”