TIME TO HIT THE OPEN ROAD?

Golf Australia - - AROUND THE TRAPS - – Michael Jones

THERE have been mixed re­ac­tions since Golf Australia and the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment an­nounced the Emi­rates Aus­tralian Open will be re­turn­ing to Mel­bourne in 2020 and 2022.

So­cial me­dia ban­ter ap­peared to be split on the an­nounce­ment. While most golf fans can see the ben­e­fits of a trav­el­ling tour­na­ment, some Syd­neysiders would pre­fer to keep our na­tional cham­pi­onship to them­selves.

So as a Mel­bur­nian, I feel some­what obliged to say some­thing along the lines of: Build an­other bridge and get over it. But they ac­tu­ally have a point … Or at least in­spire some.

The cur­rent eight-year con­tract be­tween Golf Australia and La­gardère Sports al­lows for two “re­lease years” to play the Aus­tralian Open out­side of Syd­ney. So the event was des­tined to leave the Har­bour City ei­ther way. But Mel­bourne al­ready has the 2019 Pres­i­dents Cup ap­proach­ing. Not to men­tion the Aus­tralian Grand Prix, AFL Grand Fi­nal and our na­tional ten­nis Open – which it has hosted since 1972. Does it re­ally need this, too? Golf Australia mag­a­zine un­der­stands the 2020 Aus­tralian Open will be played at one of the tried and tested Sand­belt courses, while the 2022 in­stal­ment could be hosted by a club that is new to the tour­na­ment ca­per. Should this prove to be the case, Penin­sula Kingswood Coun­try Golf Club looms as a likely can­di­date.

The merger club has been a hive of ac­tiv­ity in re­cent times with OCCM (Ogilvy, Clay­ton, Cock­ing and Mead) over­see­ing some stun­ning ma­jor re­design work.

Like most, I’m all for show­cas­ing new courses and clubs but it seems Golf Australia may have missed an op­por­tu­nity to share what’s on offer out­side our two busiest cities.

Fi­nan­cial is­sues aside, why wasn’t at least 2020 promised to a place like Ade­laide? The City of Churches has al­ready pro­vided two great tour­na­ments as the cur­rent home to the women’s edi­tion of the Open.

Our na­tional cham­pi­onship has ven­tured out­side of NSW and Vic­to­ria twice in 42 years. I for one hope this changes sooner rather than later.

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