THIS week’s golf news is that the sport may be edging yet closer to the 21st century.

The announcement a couple of days ago that the recently-formed Golf Sixes tournament, which will take place in St Albans in May, will include women in a team golf competition for the first time ever, was hailed as a hugely positive step forward for the sport.

In one of the four wildcard teams at May’s Golf Sixes, Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will play alongside Solheim Cup skipper, Catriona Matthew, while the field will also include an England women’s side, with Georgia Hall combining with Charley Hull, while Melissa Reid of England will partner Norway’s Suzann Pettersen in a European women’s team.

With a prize purse of one million euros, the event is not to be sniffed at and the format has been compared to cricket’s Twenty20 format, which certainly breathed life into a sport that on occasion, has an ability to slow time down in a way few could have imagined possible.

Certainly, golf needs all the help it can get in terms of updating its image; there are few sports which are perceived by the public to be more pale, male and stale than golf. So, on the face of it, this new development is wholly positive and has been painted as a move that will refresh and revitalise the sport.

In one respect, golf must be applauded for trying to use its imagination and breath some life into the sport. On the other hand however, I’m not entirely convinced that pitching men against women is the best way of reinvigorating any sport.

Golf is not the first to try this. Billie Jean King’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ against Bobby Riggs in 1973 was the original woman versus man sporting extravaganza, with King defeating her male opponent in a victory that, it was said, brought an acceptance that was previously lacking to the women’s game.

And tennis is not the only sport that has seen female athletes make an appearance in men’s competitions; golf has previous in this area, with both Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie entering men’s competitions. And there is, of course, mixed doubles in a number of sports, as well as sports like horse racing and racing car driving in which the sexes are not segregated.

Yet I fail to be convinced that that way for a sport to progress is for women to compete directly against men. Women’s sport and female athletes continue to struggle to gain parity with the level of media coverage of female athletes remaining considerably less than that of men’s sport, while the investment into female sport is minute in comparison to the millions of pounds that is thrown at men’s sport week in, week out.

Progress is being made in terms of equality but there is still a long way to go, although I do believe we can potentially get close to something approaching parity one day.

But for me, the way to improve the standing of women’s sport is not to pit the female athletes against the male athletes. In doing this, it sends the message that women’s sport is only of any value if female athletes can compete directly with the men. It says that if women cannot beat men then there is no worth to women’s sport at all.

In almost every case, female athletes are not at the same level as men athletically. But just because women run a few tenths of a seconds slower than men or serve a few miles per hour slower, does that mean they are less worthy of recognition? I would argue not. To boil sport down purely to speed and strength seems reductive in the extreme and also suggests a misunderstanding of how many component parts must come together to make up an elite athlete.

Last year, an argument arose, initiated by John McEnroe, as to whether or not Serena Williams would be in the world’s top 700 were she to play on the men’s tour.

But why does that matter? Surely few would class her as less of a champion if she happened not to be able to make it into the world’s top 700 on the men’s side.

It remains to be seen if Golf Sixes will pan out to be a success. I hope that the women can hold their own and I am confident that they will. But that shouldn’t be the deciding factor in the argument as to whether women’s golf is intrinsically valuable or not.