R&A targets Women’s Open growth through fan experience

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The R&A is aiming to attract new audiences to golf after revealing plans for an Ellie Goulding concert and a wider festival fan village at this year’s AIG Women’s Open.

BRIT Award winner Goulding will become the first artist to play at the event when she entertains fans at Walton Heath on Saturday, August 12 following the close of play. Tickets for the final day ae available now from £55.

The R&A said the elevation of the AIG Women’s Open fan experience and event strategy has been informed by research it commissioned into the UK golf audience which highlighted that two-thirds of fans are interested in live music and entertainment at women’s golf championships.

Goulding said: “I’m honoured to be the first music artist to perform at the AIG Women’s Open. The elevation of women’s sport is something I’m a huge champion of, so I can’t wait to be surrounded by inspiring women in August.”

The festival fan village, created by Populous, will feature a stage, managed by GQ Awards organisers Timebased Productions, featuring panel discussions with leading names from sport, business and entertainment.

There will also be a Golf It! Zone, which will feature fun golf activities to introduce fans to the sport, and interactive golf experiences including VR and e-sports. Big screens will show golf and other leading women’s sport including the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Fans can also enjoy a new food and beverage offering which will feature a collective of diverse street food traders.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “We and our valued partners in AIG have been clear that our ambition is to elevate the AIG Women’s Open as a world-class sporting event. We have made important strides in recent years to enhance prize money, championship venues and facilities for the benefit of the world’s best women’s golfers, but we also see the spectator experience as crucial to increasing the appeal of the Championship and encouraging more fans to attend.

“Our research shows that fans would like to see live music and entertainment feature as part of their event experience and so we have developed an enhanced offering that aims to attract new and diverse audiences into attending the Championship and supporting women’s golf at the very highest level. We are excited by what we have to offer them and look forward to welcoming fans to Walton Heath this summer.”