Former All Black coach and New Zealand PGA Championship
tournament director John Hart is calling on the region's
business community to provide support before next year's
Speaking at the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce's annual
Christmas lunch last week, Mr Hart asked business leaders to
promote next year's PGA Championship, as that was something
that had been lacking before this year's inaugural tournament
Promotion for that tournament began in December 2011, which
was too late and resulted in the tournament drawing
insufficient crowd numbers, he said.
''We were a bunch of novices focused on creating an event and
we looked internally on running a good tournament.
''We didn't engage with Queenstown and the Otago region and
didn't get the crowds as a result.''
The aim for organisers of next year's event, promotion for
which began soon after this year's event, and in following
years was to promote the event as one the best golf
tournament experiences in the world, including focusing on
the Asian market, he said.
''We don't want to be the biggest because we can never be
that, but we want to be a tournament where we can offer an
The tournament was never likely to generate a profit, so
organisers counted on gate sales to break even and that was
where he asked for help to ''achieve the dream''.
Mr Hart was inspired by the Dunhill Classic on the European
Tour, which he attended as a celebrity guest some years ago,
and said he hoped The Hills-hosted event would follow a
For this to happen, the number of amateur guests would need
to double; and the Millbrook and Jack's Point courses would
need to be used along with The Hills; and the format would
need to change, amateurs and professionals pairing up for the
first three days of play before splitting for the business
end of the championship.
The tournament's directors would announce the names of some
of those attending the event soon, including a celebrity from
China, a Japanese golf pro with a world ranking of 100 and a
celebrity in the form of a rugby union halfback to match with
former All Black Justin Marshall.
The other half in the ''battle of the halfback'' would be
announced next week, Mr Hart said.
It was announced recently three-time United States Open
winner Hale Irwin would headline the professional golf field
and Mr Hart said he expected Hale would be paired with New
Zealand golfing great Sir Bob Charles.
Sir Bob had been involved in attracting Irwin to the
tournament, he said.
Other tournament guests confirmed are Prime Minister John
Key, former cricketers Mark Richardson and Sir Ian Botham and
New Zealand's golf golden girl, Lydia Ko.
The tournament will run from February 29 to March 2.