What a difference a year makes.
Yesterday, Michael Hendry was crowned winner of the second
annual NZ PGA Pro-Am at The Hills, Arrowtown. The four-day
tournament featured 142 professional golfers, 66 amateurs,
Prime Minister John Key, and 68 celebrities and international
business people who teed off at Jacks Point on Saturday
morning in the PGA Challenge.
Add to that a concert at The 19th on Saturday night and an
aerobatic display from the Royal New Zealand Air Force Red
Checkers, and tournament organisers firmly believe they have
found the recipe for success. Plans are already under way for
the 2014 event.
By Saturday morning, crowd numbers surpassed the total crowd
over four days in 2012. By yesterday afternoon, it was
estimated 13,000 people had come through the gates at The
Hills over the four days, compared with only 4000 over four
days the previous year.
NZ PGA Pro-Am organising committee chairman John Hart told
the Otago Daily Times on Saturday ''the world is our
''We've got a dream to become a junior Dunhill or AT&T -
our size has its limitations ... but this event could become
something very, very big.
''There's a real buzz about this tournament. It has the
ability to be something very special for New Zealand as an
''We're trying to build something which is unique. There are
not many Pro-Ams where the amateurs play in the tournament
with the professionals.''
In contrast with the 2012 tournament, where golf was the star
attraction and, aside from the amateur seeding tournament at
Jacks Point, Sir Michael Hill's private golf course was the
only course in use, this year's tournament had spread the
A final qualifying tournament was held in Cromwell on Tuesday
before the professionals played their first round at The
Hills on Thursday.
A night's rest and the amateurs and celebrities teed off in
the seeding tournament on Friday, with the PGA Challenge on
Saturday at Jacks Point and Sunday at Millbrook featuring Sir
Richard Hadlee, Joe Stanley, Julie Coney and Ivan Cleary,
along with about 20 business people from Australia, Japan and
Korea, representing ''some of the biggest companies in the
''The PGA Challenge is a tournament we're running adjacent to
the main tournament, which is part of what we're trying to do
to leverage for the Government in terms of their involvement
in the tournament.
''We're trying to build business-to-business relationships
with this tournament in Asia.
''Golf is probably the only sport that opens business doors
and the businessmen can compete ... with a professional
because of the handicaps.''
Players included senior business people representing
Mitsubishi, Canon and Daikin, Mr Hart said.
To capitalise on the opportunity, Mr Hart said a Japan-New
Zealand business forum on Saturday at Millbrook aimed to talk
about business relationships between the two countries and
included four professional golfers who played the Japanese
''The Japanese Tour is a very stable and well-organised tour.
We're looking, as part of this tournament, to build long-term
relationships,'' Mr Hart said.
Plans were afoot to grow the tournament further, doubling the
number of amateurs to reach about 130 and play over two
courses - The Hills and Millbrook. However, that was subject
''We need to raise probably another $1 million on top of
where we are, or more.''