Open declared success

Australian golfer Dimitrios Papadatos salutes the crowd after he won the 2014 New Zealand Open at...
Australian golfer Dimitrios Papadatos salutes the crowd after he won the 2014 New Zealand Open at The Hills on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Despite inclement weather - including a ''brutal'' weather front which swept through on Friday and early Sunday afternoon rain which sent spectators from The Hills in droves - the 2014 NZ Open has been hailed a success.

Held at The Hills and Millbrook from Thursday until Sunday, the event attracted an estimated 18,000 people - up from 15,000 for the NZ PGA Pro-Am in 2013.

Tournament director Michael Glading said there was ''no question'' the weather had affected numbers through the gates.

Sheltered spots were at a premium on Arrowtown's Buckingham St on Thursday night for the New Zealand Open Welcome Party, with early evening rain putting a dampener on celebrations.

Friday's front brought with it a howling southerly wind, driving rain and snow to the mountains, and while conditions improved on Saturday, another front swept through the Wakatipu early on Sunday afternoon, bringing more rain and wind.

This forced soaked spectators to leave in big numbers before the weather cleared in time for Australia's Dimitrios Papadatos to be crowned winner of the 2014 NZ Open.

However, Mr Glading said the community support for the tournament had been ''fantastic, right across the board'', from volunteers and business owners to residents and the community at large, as well as the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which was able to provide funding for the first time through its events strategy.

The strategy enables the council to facilitate, support and grow events in the district, with the NZ Open receiving a $100,000 grant from the $315,000 pool.

Mr Glading said the council funding was ''an integral part of our success''.

''But, we would like to think the event has added a contribution to the community ... it should be a win-win.''

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said tournament organisers would have to reapply for future funding and would have to meet ''performance measures''.

Applications were considered on several criteria, including the number of visitors the event would attract, the size and significance of the event and the media profile.

This year's Open was covered by 37 accredited media representatives, the majority from New Zealand but also some who came from Japan and Australia.

In addition, 27 Tourism New Zealand staff attended and would write features for magazines, both national and international.

The 2014 tournament was not screened live on television, but action from the 15th, 17th and 18th holes was streamed live on the internet for the duration of the NZ Open, by Dunedin sports graphics company Animation Research Ltd.

Mr Glading said that would likely ''always be a part of what we do now''. However, it had been ''well documented'' getting the tournament televised was a priority.

''It [live streaming] was a real punt.

''It's amazing what [ARL chief executive] Ian Taylor has done with short notice and limited resources - it's pretty exciting.

''Live TV is still ... for the international markets ... really important.

''That's going to be a focus for us to do that in a cost-effective manner [so] we don't go broke in the process.''

Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association committee member David Clarke said the NZ Open was ''a fantastic event and it's fantastic to have it back''.

Mr Clarke said Arrowtown was noticeably busier during the event and the golf added to the series of events held during summer, with more planned for autumn.

The 2015 tournament will be held at The Hills and Millbrook Resort on March 12-15 in the second year of a three-year deal.

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