$250k purse for Queenstown virtual golf tournament

Rain will not deter players or spectators at a virtual golf event three days out from the start of the New Zealand Open golf tournament at Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort.

Pros coming to the Open are being invited to tee up for a round in the fairly lucrative NEXT Golf Tour — using Trackman technology — at Queenstown indoor golf centre Golf Federation.

On February 26, players will play a "virtual" round of the 18-hole Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort in Florida — host of the United States PGA Tour’s annual Valspar Championship.

Centre director Ben Guilford said up to four players could play the course in each of four simulator bays, though they also had the option of playing the round, from Friday next week, using any other Trackman simulator.

There was a minimum prize pool of $US150,000 ($NZ247,000), provided primarily by Trackman but with a contribution from Europe’s DP World Tour, which also supported the NEXT tour.

Out of that purse, the winner would receive $US50,000.

However, that prize pool increased the more entries there were — he hoped for a 32-strong field.

Golf Federation centre director Ben Guilford will run a virtual round of the NEXT Golf Tour this...
Golf Federation centre director Ben Guilford will run a virtual round of the NEXT Golf Tour this month, which will have a minimum prize pool of $247,000. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
Of the $US130 entry fee, $US100 would go towards the prize purse.

Players used a purpose-built app to record their round, automatically uploaded to Trackman after each hole, so people could track their progress via the tour’s website.

However, the tournament also offered the chance for golf fanatics to get up close to the pros at his Athol St centre.

"You can actually go and chat to them. You can stand a metre away and ask them how they’re going."

And for the winner to take home at least $82,000, "it’s not a bad way to start the week".

Though it was "virtual" golf, he stressed it was "a real golf ball, a real club, real putting".

"Everything’s real other than, obviously, not hitting outdoors."

— Philip Chandler