Growth strategy behind changes

Four separate structures, including a public grandstand, are under construction overlooking the...
Four separate structures, including a public grandstand, are under construction overlooking the final hole at Millbrook Resort ahead of this month’s NZ Open. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
This month’s New Zealand Open, teeing off at Millbrook Resort in a fortnight, will include a new-look layout on the final 18th hole.

In previous years, a two-level Champions Lounge has been erected overlooking the last hole, but this year organisers have replaced that with four separate structures.

Tournament director Michael Glading says the concept is designed to create more of an amphitheatre around the hole and water feature, and enhancing the overall atmosphere "along the lines of that seen at golf tournaments around the world".

The new-look Champions Lounge, where sponsors, playing amateurs, partners and supporters are hosted, is largely in the same position as last year, opposite the Millhouse, but now only on one level.

There’s a large deck, featuring two levels of viewing, wrapping around that lounge, while two other structures house a bar and another hosting lounge.

Alongside, a free public grandstand’s being built to optimise viewing of the final hole.

"Seating up to 200 people, this will offer a close-up bird’s-eye view of all the action, where previously there was only a grass area for seating," Glading says.

A new viewing platform’s being built behind the tee for the 18th hole, and additional infrastructure is also being put in place around the Coronet 1st.

There’ll also be massive LED signage around the 18th, similar to that seen at sports stadiums, featuring sponsors and suppliers, with a large screen beside the grandstand displaying the leaderboard throughout all four days of the tournament.

Glading says the developments are part of a three-to-five year growth strategy, aimed at continued improvements with a view to providing long-term community benefits and "securing the future of the event in Queenstown".

The 103rd Open’s free to attend and runs from February 29 to March 3 — Sky Sports is broadcasting the tourney each afternoon.