NZ Open finds home at Gulf Harbour
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2006 New Zealand Open | General | 15 Jun 2005
The country’s premier professional golf tournament, the New Zealand Open will have a home at Whangaparaoa’s Gulf Harbour Country Club for the next four years.
New Zealand Golf today agreed to a four-year term with the club to host the NZD$1.5 million tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian Tours.
New Zealand Golf Chief Executive Larry Graham believes this paves the way to establish a world-class tournament for New Zealand. His views were supported by New Zealand’s leading player, Michael Campbell who has today confirmed he will be a definite starter for next January’s 2006 Open.
Campbell, who has climbed to 18th on the European rankings after five top-15 finishes in a row, said this year’s Open at Gulf Harbour was the best and most professionally run he had attended.
“They’ve done a lot to the course and facilities for players, wives and the public were excellent. The total scene was a big jump up from any other New Zealand Open that I’ve attended,” Campbell said on the eve of his participation in the US Open.
The Holden New Zealand Open enjoyed a successful debut as a co-sanctioned event with the European and Australasian Tours in February this year, with the Gulf Harbour course providing a key component.
“We had to raise the bar considerably if we wanted to host a co-sanction event of this magnitude and we achieved this,” Mr Graham said. "Gulf Harbour filled those requirements better than any other course in this country. And the club was outstanding in its commitment to the tournament.
“The pictures from this event beamed live and delayed worldwide to 120 million homes. That is the sort of exposure for our game and this country that money can’t buy.”
Mr Graham said the four-year agreement will allow the organisers and the club to invest in infrastructural services to further enhance the event.
“I know some people would like to see this tournament move around the country. This four-year arrangement will hopefully give other venues a chance to review their own facilities in line with those at Gulf Harbour and to put their hand up for consideration at the next opportunity. If we want to do justice to the Open’s 88-year history as a premier golfing event and meet the new standards of a co-sanction event with Europe, then a base at Gulf Harbour for four years is the best decision.”
Gulf Harbour President Ian Boocock said the club was delighted with the announcement and they look forward to hosting the event for the next four years.
“Our club members enjoyed the experience and we are delighted that we were able to play a part in taking this event to a new level,” Mr Boocock said. “We are also pleased that the Gulf Harbour club can be the catalyst for a major tourist focus and income earner for our Whangaparaoa Peninsula.”
Mr Graham believes there are real opportunities for the community to get involved especially with a greater lead-time for the 2006 event and beyond.
“There’s a significant population base out here to support the tournament and it’s within easy reach of two-thirds of New Zealand’s population. The golfing public can now plan to incorporate Gulf Harbour and the New Zealand Open in their itineraries.
“That presents a superb opportunity to establish other events as a focal point for the Whangaparaoa community to embrace, as well as prosper from hosting an international event of this calibre.”
Mr Graham said New Zealand Golf and the Australasian Tour had debriefed with all sponsors and already begun discussions with existing and potential sponsors for the 2006 event.
The 2006 New Zealand Open is scheduled for the slightly earlier date of 26-29 January and he is confident of a stronger field, especially as the tournament leads into the $3 million co-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. Now we know where the tournament will be for the next four years, that work can start in earnest.”
Source – NZGA