Charlotte Austwick eyes maximum exposure in 2020protour event at Howley Hall

Charlotte Austwick swaps the microphone for the golf clubs at the 2020protour event at Howley Hall today.

Charlotte Austwick

The 28-year-old professional from York has been acting as a commentator at the two most recent events on the 2020protour following the circuit, and the sport’s, re-emergence from lockdown.

Austwick was on the first tee at both Cleckheaton and Oulton Hall earlier this month, interviewing players rather than competing against them, as she patiently waited for moderations to her game to have a positive effect on the driving range.

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“I went through some swing changes during lockdown and I just wasn’t ready,” said Austwick, who had played in the first two one-day events on the mixed gender tour in March, prior to the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Toni-Louise Naylor chips in to the first green at the 2020protour at Cleckheaton Golf Club on 8 June 2020. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“I just wanted to protect myself in that sense, I don’t want to just make the numbers up, I want to be able to compete.”

Her patience has been rewarded with a place in the 128-strong field for today’s event at Howley Hall, with Austwick one of 15 female amateurs and professionals teeing it up.

At 28, the Pike Hills professional is twice the age of schoolgirl amateurs Abigail Taylor and Zara Naughton who have both acquitted themselves well in previous tournaments, despite the field including a smattering of European Tour players.

It is that appeal of playing against the men, and bridging the gap from the amateur game to the professional ranks in women’s golf, that makes the 2020protour – the brainchild of Challenge Tour players Chris Hanson and Adam Walker – so appealing.

Marcus Armitage won the most recent 2020protour event at Oulton Hall (Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Unlike the EuroPro Tour, or other mini tours around the country, women do not have as many opportunities to play on feeder tours as their male counterparts.

In search of regular golf, Austwick – who has a card on the Ladies European Tour’s Access Tour ( Challenge Tour equivalent) has had to play on the more expensive Santander Tour in Spain.

She even went out to South Africa, where she played eight events in a row on the Women’s Sunshine Tour in between trying to qualify for a Ladies European Tour event on the Monday, something she achieved just once.

“I usually play on Ladies European Tour Access Series, but there’s not the opportunties for women to go from amateur to the European Tour,” continued Austwick, who has also spent time representing Fulford.

The unique appeal of the 2020protour as men and women compete against each other. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“All of a sudden you go from that amateur ranking to the second tier in Europe. There are no stepping stones laid out like the men have.

“With EuroPro the guys are able to stay in the UK, similar to life as an amateur you’re just a professional.

“I’ve been over to Spain on the Santander Tour where you’re playing two-day events for a 10,000 euros first prize, and there’s huge expenses. We’ve had to do that because there’s not been the playing opportunities here in the UK.

“With the 2020protour, Adam and Chris have involved the women from the start.

“They want women here, not just to make up the numbers, they actually want us to compete as well, as shown with the fact that women play the course 11 per cent shorter.

“And that’s a really fair barometer. I’ve played enough golf with Adam and Chris; put me off the same tees as them and I’ll give it a go, but we all know realistically I don’t hit it as far and I can’t keep up with them.

“So to have them pushing the women to be here is great.”

Marcus Armitage, the winner at Oulton Hall, will be looking to make it back-to-back wins at his home course today.

He is second on the order of merit with Nick Poppleton, joint-winner at Cleckheaton three weeks ago, leading the way. Moortown’s Nick McCarthy lies third.

Tee-times commence at 7.50am and run right through until 1.34pm.

As with previous events since sport returned from lockdown, social distancing rules apply.

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