International Festival of Golf coming to Victoria

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2003 Australian Open | General | 23 Sep 2003
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The Minister for Tourism Hon. John Pandazopoulos, last week chose the Mornington Peninsula to launch the State’s first ever Golf Tourism Strategy 2003 – 2006.

The development of golf tourism as a key high yielding segment of the Victorian economy has been recognized by the Government, along with the Mornington Peninsula as the driving force.

Immediate support for the Strategy has come from the Australian Golf Union and Golf Australia Holdings Ltd, the developers and shareholders in the newly opened Moonah Links complex.

An International Festival of Golf (IFOG) will host a series of lead in golf and tourism activities to complement the Australian Open Golf Championship at the Peter Thomson designed Moonah Links complex.

As this is the first time the Open has been played outside of metropolitan Melbourne the organizers decided on creating a “festival” atmosphere so as to attract a wider audience and take advantage of the myriad of local attractions that make up the Mornington Peninsula.

IFOG will feature the; Aaron Baddeley World Junior Qualifying, Charity Pro-Am, Mixed Teams Event, Young Guns Skins $25,000Shoot Out and the “Bash for Cash” – The $25,000 Australian Long Drive Championship.

This will all be supported by a Charity Lunch for over 250 diners on the balcony of the new Clubhouse, hosted by funnyman John Blackman.

It is expected that over AUD$100,000 will be raised for Mental Health research and local charities.

An economic assessment of the combined benefits flowing from the Festival and Open by PriceWaterhouseCoopers forecasts up to 60,000 visitors over the ten days.

The events scheduled for inclusion in the 2003 IFOG calendar include:

Aaron Baddeley World Junior Championship – Australian Final
This is an international event in its’ fourth year and is the Australian qualifier for the world final to be held in Fiji in December 2004. The top four qualifiers in the various age categories gain selection in the Australian team. The event will be played over the new Legends course on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 November and will bring over 150 of Australia’s best junior golfers and their families to the Mornington Peninsula.

Young Guns Skins $25,000 Shootout
This is a nine hole mixed pairs event showcasing four of the nations outstanding young golfers – Australia’s “Rising Stars”. All participants will be “miked up” to allow for interaction with the gallery and the playing format will be a skins contest with both pairs representing a designated charity. All skins won will be donated to the chosen charities.

Two times Australian Open Champion Aaron Baddeley and the sensational Sarah Kemp will form a team to go head to head with the Bridgestone Golf Team of “young gun” Adam Crawford and the stunning Carlie Butler.

National Long Driving Championship
This event will offer the opportunity for spectators to witness close up PGA Tour professionals, long hitting amateurs, celebrities and sporting heroes from other sports going head to head in a long drive “Smash for Cash” competition.

Charity Pro-Am for Mental Health Research
The Festival fund raising will start with a Charity Pro-Am and dinner to raise funds for the Mental Health Research Institute. This event has over 28 committed sponsors each contributing $4000.00 per team.

Mornington Peninsula Food & Wine Charity Lunch
The new Moonah Links clubhouse balcony will host the first Food & Wine Lunch for a local charity or community organisation to be nominated by the Shire. This will be “Gourmet Grazing” at it’s best as three of the region’s leading restaurants headed by their award winning chefs test their culinary skills on the 250 lucky diners.

The lunch will be organised and run by and the Vignerons Association to showcase the region’s products. “Healthy Eating”, “Responsible Serving of Alcohol” and “Drink Driving” will be the key messages to be communicated. All dinner guests will be VIP invitees to the Young Guns Skins event prior to “grazing” – and will have a front seat view of the “Smash for Cash” Long Driving Championship during lunch.

Junior Clinic – Friday November 21
Aaron Baddeley assisted by the resident AIS scholarship holders will conduct a junior golf clinic and autograph signing on the Friday. The clinic will target schools from the area and will also allow the children to become part of the gallery of an international event.

Federation Square
Federation Square will become the CBD link to the Australian Open for Melbourne via a live feed to the giant screen. The Square will also be used to promote awareness of the Open, Moonah Links and the Mornington Peninsula. It will feature a ticket and tourism office, wine stalls, food vendors and live coverage of the Open on the first two days.

Mixed Pairs Teams Event
In line with the “Stay & Play” tourism theme a mixed teams event is being played over five courses – Sorrento, The Dunes, Rosebud, Eagle Ridge and Flinders.

2004 and Beyond
A “National Mixed Teams Championship” will be introduced consisting of teams of four (two men & two women) with qualifying to be held throughout Australia on lines similar to the very successful Holden Scramble. It is envisaged that up to 100 teams of four will qualify nationally for the finals to be held over two rounds on a variety of Mornington Peninsula courses.

A new $500,000 PGA Tour tournament “The Lord Mayors International Challenge” is under negotiation. The format is to invite players and mayoral representatives of major cities from the Asia Pacific region to golf related events, trade expos and business conferences.

Television coverage of the Open by Channel 7 will be Australia wide and international exposure to Asia Pacific, U.K., USA, and Europe via live feed and highlights could reach a potential 100 million viewers.

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