Matsuyama, who won the first of two Asia-Pacific Amateur championships in 2010, said the Augusta-backed amateur events had had a significant impact on international amateur golf.
“I can’t say enough about the vision and foresight of the membership of Augusta National Golf Club when they decided to establish the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship,” he said.
Matsuyama turned pro in 2013 after playing in his second Masters as an amateur.
More precedent setting, though, was the creation of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“It broadens the reach of golf,” said Darla Moore, a Wall Street veteran and one of the first female members of Augusta National. “I genuinely believe it’s a wonderful thing. Golf needs institutional sponsors, and there’s no better place than Augusta to be part of this.”
Five competitors in this year’s women’s amateur were national finalists in the Drive, Chip and Putt competition. The event is open to children 7 to 15 who qualify through local, state and regional events to make it to the finals at Augusta. Megha Ganne, a four-time finalist in the event, played in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this year. Ganne, a high school junior in New Jersey who said she had committed to play golf at Stanford University, is among the 20 percent of the Drive, Chip and Putt national finalists who have played or committed to play college golf.
When Ganne first qualified for the event in 2015, at age 11, she remembers meeting Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. secretary of state and an Augusta member. But as Ganne was preparing for her first women’s amateur, she said she appreciates what Augusta has done for the amateur game.
“An assumption that most people make is that golf is a predominantly white and older sport,” said Ganne, 17, who is Indian-American. “With Drive, Chip and Putt and the women’s amateur, Augusta has changed this image so it’s more youthful and diverse. Putting that out there is doing a great thing for the game, and it’s showing people that golf can be for everyone.”