Summer of Golf
Every February and March the NZ Golfing community looks forward to the playing of the NZ PGA Championship and the NZ Open.
However, these two events are like chalk and cheese. The NZ PGA is played in the regular four round format with mainly PGA Professionals in the field. Now being played in the provinces it is still a daunting challenge for any Golf Club to take on the responsibility. It is a huge step up from Club Champs and Pennants etc and even a Charles Tour event. The PGA Tour staff get involved in the course set up, there is a massively increased level of production cost and loads more. Manawatu Golf Club repeated their 2017 inaugural event and it was magnificent. The already respectable crowd count of 2017 was effectively doubled this year and the Mayor announced that the region would be seeking a 2019 event.
The NZ OPEN, however, now almost permanently domiciled in Queenstown, is quickly revolutionising the format into a vastly different concept. A mixture of ranking international golf professionals and fee paying amateurs play over 2 days at both Millbrook and The Hills. The cut includes the amateurs who get culled for both the Saturday and the Sunday which are then played at Millbrook.
Then a clever part. Jacks Point puts on a Saturday ProAm tournament for those that missed the cut. This sense of inclusiveness and value works.
Of course, this year had its moments. Ryan Fox, NZ No.1 and Michael Hendry, last year’s winner both missing the cut along with many other notables including KJ CHOI. A highlight for this magazine though was watching young Daniel Hillier, still an amateur, master the tournament and make it with the best of the Professionals.
We heard, on the rather bland TV coverage, some criticism of the format. We cannot agree. In a small country with limited resources and without the Charity Tax breaks other countries and Tours enjoy we must be imaginative.
So, we now move onto other world golf events. The Masters is looming and the eyes are on Tiger. He will play, but how well?
Finally, we add our congratulations to all the winners announced at the National Golf Awards recently. Marcus Wheelhouse, one of the contributors to our NZPGA coaching pages was announced as the PGA of NZ Professional Coach of the Year (2017). We have a profile on him and you can find the winners of all the categories.