Top International golf has been missed in Auckland for some years. Certainly, the PGA was held for a couple of years at Remuera, as an Australasian tier 2 event, but it never reached the heights that it enjoyed at Clearwater some years ago when it was co-sanctioned with the Nationwide Tour.
However, that has all now changed.
This column is being written at Windross Farm golf course, not far from Ardmore airfield, just off the Southern Motorway. The LPGA, quite a lot of which has been written about over the last few months, has come to New Zealand and it has certainly produced the crowds.
The field on the opening round has been described as attracting the largest opening day crowd – ever – in LPGA history. That may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but the Friday tally after round 2 exceeded 16,000 paying spectators through the gate. Incredible.
Round 3 on the Saturday also far exceeded expectations in terms of crowd numbers and if the weather on the Sunday had behaved we would certainly have had a NZ spectator record for golf.
What it has produced are NEW spectators. New to the sport of international golf that is. This caused a little bit of angst with camera shutters and greenside viewing causing minor problems, but in balance – no problem. Indeed, one visitor to the course wrote a letter to the NZ Herald bemoaning the lack of facilities at Windross Farm in the event of inclement weather, like there being no shelter for spectators or the players. Well that is true of all golf courses. In fact, the Sunday produced that sort of scenario and the Spectators and Players coped. Cold and somewhat damp, but all were fine.
To close. Windross Farm as an international course venue? I had my doubts. A bit short, a bit too new, a bit far from the CBD!! Well I was wrong. It was great venue, I think our visitors from around the world enjoyed it. The stakeholders certainly received great value and the systems behind the scenes certainly produced a great result. No event can be flawless but The Clubhouse team, albeit new to the golfing scene, have excelled.
Congratulations to Michael Goldstein and his entire team both front of house and way behind the scenes.
Bring on 2018.