Why Pebble Beach hosting the US Women’s Open could be a ‘game changer’

Brandi Chastain made her name playing soccer, but she also understands the allure, history and power of Pebble Beach.

As a young girl, Chastain joined her grandfather on walks around the big links during the tournament then known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am. Cal “Gagi” Lillge told stories about Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, about Lee Trevino and Tom Watson, and Chastain listened intently. She and Lillge often sat beside the 18th fairway eating strawberry shortcake as golfers strolled by and enjoyed the panoramic ocean view.

A sight Chastain didn’t see as a child: women playing Pebble competitively. That will change this week when the course hosts the US Women’s Open for the first time in its 104-year history.

This counts as a milestone bigger than golf in many ways, an important and long overdue step for women’s sports. Pebble Beach is one of the world’s most famous sporting venues, a cultural landmark as much a symbol of California’s stunning coastline as a stage for major championships.

Now the best female players on the planet will finally compete there. Chastain drew a parallel to a similarly historic stadium in Pasadena, where she created her signature moment at the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

“I would say it’s like playing in the Rose Bowl,” she said. “The importance is the most important matches and the biggest matches are played in these places, but only by half the population. For us, it speaks volumes about the importance of the tournament and how we now look at women’s and women’s golf and where it should belong to at regular intervals.

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