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NZ Golf Open organisers look to expand tournament in Queenstown

POSTED ON March 14, 2016 @ 2:15 pm

2016-03-14_1414

Queenstown’s Jacks Point golf course will be included in future New Zealand Open tournaments, organising committee chairman John Hart says.

Speaking as the four-day tournament, held across the Hills and Millbrook golf course, came to a close, Hart confirmed initial discussions were under way to include the new golf course.

“I would love to go to three courses . . . that gives us a chance to grow ths field slightly and also takes the pressure off us as because at the moment we’ve got 144 amateurs, 144 pros, two days on two courses.”

Jacks Point would be the logical golf course to expand to. However, there were longer term plans for a further nine-holes to be constructed at Millbrook.

“I think Jacks Point is a beautiful golf course, so we’ve initiated discussions around that but we don’t have a time frame on that,” Hart said.

There were financial risks to consider also.

“To go to three courses sounds good but you’ve got huge television costs, huge logistical costs in travel . . . so you’ve got to be realistic about that.

“I’d like to do it when I know we’ve got the financial soundness to say we can do it without losing money. We don’t want to make money – we just want to break even.”

An existing five year arrangement was in place for Millbrook and the Hills to co-host the tournament form 2017.

Beyond that it was likely the tournament would stay in Queenstown, he said.

“I personally think it will stay in Queenstown forever because I think Queenstown is part of the attraction of this event and to run a pro-am on two or three courses in New Zealand . . . you can’t do it in a big city like Auckland.

“I think Queenstown is the jewel of New Zealand’s tourism crown and has just got so much to offer. When you look at television . . . and see the pictures going around the world to 70 or 80 countries – you can’t beat that.”

One thing that might change was the timing of the tournament.

Organisers hoped to get top New Zealand golfer Danny Lee at the tournament in future and, while they would not be offering appearance money, moving the dates may facilitate new appearances.

“We would like to be a week or two earlier, that’s our aim, but we’re in a small town here and there was a huge event Motatapu, which was run last week.

“We want to discuss with them and the Queenstown Lakes District Council, the positioning of our tournament,” Hart said.

Tournament organisers were “delighted” with where things were at on Sunday afternoon.

The professional field was the best the tournament had seen and the internationalisation of the event was reflected on the leaderboard where the top five were a Korean, two Japanese, an Australian and a Kiwi.

There had been 17 different events over four days, about 20,000 people through the gates, and up to 80 business representatives had met with the Prime Minister in the morning.

“The reach of the tournament is far greater than a golf tournament,” Hart said.

The tournament now had a million dollar purse, which had grown from $450,000 when the tournament started five years ago, and he anticipated a co-santioning agreement would be in place with Japan for 2017.

“We want to keep growing our reach, our prizemoney. Our strategic aim to be the best tournament experience in Australasia/Pacific – it’s not to be the biggest.”

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