Ed Davies of Omokoroa drives a BMW. He also plays golf. When he has a good day on course, as he did in late November at Mt Maunganui, his choice of car means he qualifies for the New Zealand final of the biggest amateur golf event in the world.
The BMW Golf Cup International attracts close to 100,000 starters at numerous regional tournaments in 50 countries. The regional winners go the National Final. The New Zealand winners go to the World Final.
So for Ed Davies, his 78 off an 11 handicap at the Mount which equated to 41 points, means a nice January break at the Millbrook Resort near Queenstown and a chance to win a trip to the World Final at Fancourt, South Africa in March of 2020. He beat New Zealand Golf President Murray Ward of North Shore who scored 38 points off his 7 handicap.
It’s the lure of the trips to top resorts, with all expenses paid, that makes this event so popular with BMW owners all over the world.
There are restrictions though.
You have to have purchased your car from an approved dealership and to have an official New Zealand Golf handicap. The casual golfer on a made-up handicap is excluded from the big prize, although is quite welcome to play in qualifying events.
Actually, as at all the regional qualifying tournaments, Ed Davies wasn’t the only big winner on the day. There are two men’s divisions – the A Grade for handicaps up to 12.4 and the B Grade for 12.5 to 28.4 – and a women’s section. The winner of each is off to the National Final, and a spouse or partner gets to travel too.
At Mt Maunganui, one of more than a dozen qualifying events held around the country each spring, David Cho and Kathryn Kinder, both on their home course, won their respective divisions and qualified for the National Final in the B Grade and Women’s contests.
The BMW International Golf Cup has its origins in Britain in 1982. Dealers in various parts of Britain, wanting to offer their customers some added value to their purchase, organized a series of half a dozen invitation events around the country. From those events, the top players went to a national final at former Ryder Cup venue The Belfry just outside of Birmingham.
The idea of BMW drivers connecting through golf caught on in the marque’s homeland. As the game began to expand through Europe in the late 1980s, and in Germany especially with the rise to world prominence of two time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, the company premiered an event for their customers in 1987 using a similar format.
Five years later the two combined for the first time. Other BMW markets caught on and the first World Final was played in Portugal in 1995. It’s been a fixture on the BMW sporting calendar ever since, with the company using this event as part of a worldwide golfing portfolio of sponsorships which includes high profile events on both the US and European PGA Tours.
In Germany, such is the popularity of the event that 10,000 BMW drivers tee it up to try and win a place in the World Final.
The prospect of playing at a place like Fancourt or on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico as was the case for the 2019 final can have a debilitating effect on those taking part in the National Final though.
Just ask Harewood’s Paul McCormack. At Millbrook in January this year, the 11 handicapper was playing out of his skin with a golfing and tequila holiday almost certain. He had birdied the 11th at Millbrook, was only one over par for the round and en route to an easy win with considerably more than 40 points. But as every golfer knows, you should never rehearse the winner’s speech until the final putt is holed. McCormack proceeded to make double bogey on both the 15th and 16th, dropped 6 shots in his last 5 holes but despite coming home in an ambulance, posted 79 off the stick for 40 points. It was enough for him to win by 1 point over Chen Feng of Titirangi and get the trip to Mexico.
He was joined there by B Grade winner Song Chhim of Boulcott’s Farm Heritage in Lower Hutt and Annette Rowe of Te Ngutu in Taranaki.
In January 2019 there were 16 competitors in the men’s A Grade at Millbrook and 14 in each of the men’s B Grade and Women’s divisions. It’s expected there’ll be about the same number at the famous southern resort in the first month of 2020.
The prize for each of the winners is a stunner with a playing experience at Fancourt in the first week of March.
On the famed Garden Route around South Africa’s southern coast, it has three courses, all designed by the country’s golfing legend Gary Player who captained the International Team there in the 2003 President’s Cup on the premium layout, The Links.
Once again, ten-time European PGA Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie will be the tournament’s special guest and will talk to all the players at the welcome dinner.
It’s one heck of an experience for those lucky to earn it. All it takes is a good day with drives on the fairway and a few putts to drop.
It sounds easy. Just ask Ed Davies.