PGA: Momentum key to tour growth
FOLLOWING one of the biggest seasons of Australian golf in decades, the PGA says the announcement of two new exciting tournaments is a big vote of confidence for the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2012.
With last month’s launch of the Perth International Golf Championship and the NZ PGA Pro-am Championship, the PGA says prizemoney on the Tour will increase by at least AU$2.3 million in 2012 but it is hoped that this is just the start of things to come.
“The PGA has worked with a number of stakeholders over the past few years to ensure the growth of our own domestic tour for the benefit of our PGA professionals and the wider Australian golf community,” said Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA.
“With these two new tournaments and with the continued growth of Oneasia, we are constantly working towards a vibrant domestic and regional tournament platform for our growing elite ranks.”
Thorburn said that the two newest tournaments will bring a 41% increase on prizemoney from 2011, but if all goes to plan, there may be additional increases in months to come.
“Over the last month Australian golf has showcased our best courses, the world’s best players and made big inroads to securing additional corporate support. We are very optimistic that we can keep this momentum going into 2012.
“Our mission with the PGA Tour of Australasia is to make our tournaments accessible to both regional and metropolitan markets and continually innovate to ensure tournament golf remains a great entertainment spectacle and thus an attractive proposition for corporate Australia.”
“We already know that 2012 will showcase a number of new and different golf courses and a range of innovative tournament formats and this all contributes to our ability to market both the Tour and the game of golf.”
Key to this strategy will also be securing more ‘big names’ to play in Tour events.
“We have already had great interest from a number of high profile players for 2012. While we can’t compete for prizemoney with the likes of the PGA tour and the European Tour, we certainly have a reputation for world class golf courses and our tournament hospitality– Darren Clarke was a great example of that this year at Coolum.”
Whilst at Coolum, Clarke, the reigning Open champion, was so impressed with the hospitality shown to him that he made a surprise visit to the Queensland Government’s marquee to share a beer and thank them for hosting him for the week.
Clarke later tweeted to his 100,000 plus followers; ‘Different professional golf tours around the world could learn from the Aus Pga... they know how to run tournaments!’
The 2012 PGA Tour of Australasia schedule kicks off this month at Spring Valley Golf Club with the innovative Victorian Open which will be run concurrently with the Women’s Victorian Open.
The following week, on the 10th and 11th January, Kingston Heath Golf Club will once again play host to the 36-hole International Final Qualifying (IFQ) where three coveted positions into the Open Championship will be up for grabs.
A few weeks later the Victorian PGA Championship will be held from 16-19 February and will be played for the first time at the Novotel Forest Resort, Creswick.
The inaugural NZ PGA Pro-am Championship will take place from 29 March to 1 April at The Hills in Queenstown. The tournament, a partnership between the NZ PGA and The Hills, (owned by Sir Michael Hill) will offer total prize money of NZD$500,000.
Inspired by the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the event builds on the NZ PGA Championship. Professionals will play for the NZ PGA Championship over four rounds, but in a unique event format, 64 invited amateurs and celebrities will be each paired with one of the 64 professionals that make the cut, playing together as a team for the NZ PGA Pro-am Championship over the final two days.
Later in the year, The Perth International Golf Championship will tee off from 18-21 October at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Perth. IMG will be the owner and promoter of the $2million tournament, which will be sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
The full 2012 PGA Tour of Australasia schedule is expected to consist of 14 events and will be released soon.
Darren Clarke is one of many touring professionals who are vocal fans of Australia’s world-class events