Augusta National will host a women's 54-hole stroke play event featuring an international field of 72 players. Photo: Tannen Maury/EPA

GEORGIA – Augusta National opened its competitive doors to women yesterday, announcing it would host a women’s amateur championship the week before next year’s Masters.

Making his first State of the Masters address, club president Fred Ridley said the world’s most exclusive golf club, that had barred women from membership until six years ago, would welcome the world’s top amateurs to compete for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.

“(Club founders) Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts left behind a legacy of always trying to contribute meaningfully to the game of golf,” Ridley said.

“The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship embodies that principle, and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women’s game.”

The 54-hole stroke play event will feature an international field of 72 players. Invitees will be determined by awarding spots to winners of other recognised tournaments and using the world rankings.