THE final two months of 2011 are shaping up as a great time for golf in Australia with an imposing tournament line up scheduled.
Even apart from the President’s Cup, the list of players that will tee it up is quite extraordinary. The Australian Open will feature at least three top 10 players in the world in Dustin Johnston, Adam Scott and Jason Day along with Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Bubba Watson and more.
Both the PGA and Masters will also have great fields and will be complemented by the current Open Champion Darren Clarke (PGA) and the current World number one Luke Donald (Masters).
Our challenge will be to capitalise on this focus on golf and there are several ways we intend to do this.
GA and the PGA are working together on a marketing plan for the sport and there are some innovative things being implemented that will hopefully result in more people getting interested in golf, playing more often, getting lessons and joining clubs.
From GA’s perspective, the President’s Cup and Australian Open also give us an opportunity to showcase the game to key people in government and demonstrate the interest in golf and the standard of events we can hold in Australia.
The Australian Open remains very dear to GA and it is a tremendous championship in world golf and is one of the oldest National Opens in existence. In fact only the (British) Open Championship and the US Open are older than our championship.
Apart from being one of the most historic championships in all of golf, our Open has perhaps the best honour rolls of all National Championships outside of the US and British titles.
15 different major champions have lifted the Stonehaven Cup, including the greatest players of all time. Gary Player (7), Jack Nicklaus (6), Greg Norman (5), Peter Thompson (2), Arnold Palmer (1), Tom Watson (1) and Gene Sarazen (1) have all won Australian Open Championships.
The Australian Open belongs to all the golfers of Australia, to the club members and amateurs who, as Peter Thomson so eloquently described it, are the plasma of the game and Golf Australia continues to do all in its power to ensure club members recognise their connection and ownership.
The other exciting upcoming events for GA are the Handa Senior Open in Perth, which gets stronger year on year, and the Handa Women’s Australian Open which is being held in February 2012.
The Handa Women’s Australian Open is being played on the Composite Course at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, which is the first time a Women’s Australian Open has been held on that historic layout. Interest from international players is already incredibly high so I suspect we may end up getting the best field we’ve ever for this Championship.