It's the Masters meets Survivor meets Miss Universe. This isn't your momma's women's golf.
It's the Mojo 6 golf tournament, a new and unofficial cash-prize tournament of lady golfers that will be held on the island nation of Jamaica next month, and it's already injecting a hefty dose of sex appeal into a sport that has largely earned a reputation for high-waisted trousers, blue hair and unfortunate footwear.
The two-day tournament, which will be broadcast on CBS in May, will employ a format called "Raceway golf" -- a rubric designed to elicit maximum drama and emotion from an attention-deficient audience. Players will pick their opponents for a series of six-hole matches on the first day, and the top eight will move on to compete in a single-elimination tournament bracket the next day, when three match victories will leave one woman – the champion -- standing.
"We wanted to bring out rivalries and passion and desire that all these top athletes have. I want to see emotions. I want them to say I owned that person. By letting them choose their opponent, we want to pull out some major emotions and intensity," explains Ed Moses, the tournament organizer.
Fourteen LPGA players, including six of the league's top 10, have signed on to compete. The 15th spot goes a player too young to turn pro: 15-year-old phenom Mariah Stackhouse. And the 16th contestant is . . .
Well, that's the wildcard spot, and her selection is up to . . . you, the fans. Among the women vying for the spot – and at least $25,000 of the $1 million purse -- are some heavy hitters: British golfer Laura Davies, 46, winner of 70 professional tournaments and considered by many to be the most accomplished female golfer of modern times; and American Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, 54.
But remember – it's up to you, the fans. And competing against Davies and Alcott in this popularity contest are newcomers like Spanish golfer Beatriz Recari, who is 22, received her LPGA card in December and is . . . well . . . very easy on the eyes.
"I am young, I am new. There's only 16 players and this tournament is different in every single way," Recari says. "I'm a rookie and I'm a young face for the tournament. I think I can show some good golf on the course and entertain the people in the crowd."
It will be tough for accomplished players like Davies and Alcott to win more votes through experience alone when Recari can be seen blowing a kiss in her YouTube video asking for the fans' support.
Then there's Anna Rawson, 28, a fan favorite from Australia who has been playing professionally in Europe and on the LPGA tour -- and just happens to be a blonde who looks more like a Sports Illustrated model than a golfer.
And what's more . . . if Rawson wins, she says she'll donate her entire purse to charity.
"It's just so fun. I love engaging the fans. I had no idea I would be so popular. I just try to interact with the fans as much as I can and hope they like my golf game or are interested in my fashion," Rawson says.
Mojo's Web site (www.themojo6.com) offers no statistics on the competitors, so making a serious analysis of their game is near-impossible. But it does offer glamour shots -- and let's just say that some of the contestants are more glamorous than others. So it begs the question: Will the most accomplished golfer slide into the 16th slot -- or will it be the sexiest? Will the winner have won on her backswing or her backside?
"If this were the U.S. Open, then no one would want to see Laura Davies miss a chance to compete because Anna Rawson looked hot in her swimsuit photos on Facebook," said Golf magazine Senior Editor Mike Walker Jr.
"But people realize this is the equivalent of a 'silly season' event, and there’s not much objection to Anna or Beatriz Recari getting a spot on the first network-televised women’s golf event of the year if it can increase interest when the LPGA returns to the U.S. a couple weeks later.
"It’s not the first time the game has used the sex appeal of its players. Jan Stephenson had her calendars and appeared in Playboy in the 1980s. And while some of her peers disapproved, she brought more attention and interest to the game."
Moses, the tournament organizer, doesn't deny that opening the 16th slot to young and old, stunning and, well, not so stunning, will elevate fan excitement.
"That some of these girls are extremely hot is just adding to their stock," he says.
The LPGA, which has faced an uphill battle to maintain sponsor interest, will have only 25 tournaments this season -- nine fewer than it had in 2008. So there's no denying that the Mojo 6, a precursor to the official LPGA season, could inject some much-desired sex appeal into the game, a feat that was accomplished in tennis with players like Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, who are known as much for their fashion sense – and, yes, their legs -- as they are for their backhands.
"The LPGA needs all the help it can get, so anything that can bring it attention is a good thing for them," says A.J. Daulerio, editor in chief of the Deadspin.com sports blog. "They want what tennis has, and they are looking for that face like Anna Kournikova, and one of these girls could just be it."