Three-course model on cards

NZ Open tournament director Michael Glading with the Brodie Breeze. PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT
NZ Open tournament director Michael Glading with the Brodie Breeze. PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT
It may just be a matter of time before the New Zealand Open golf tourney is played across three courses in Queenstown.

Tournament organisers have, for years, made no secret of their desire to bring a third course into the mix — initially the Open was played across The Hills and Millbrook Resort, while in recent years it has been played across the latter’s two 18-hole courses.

Tourney director Michael Glading says they are making progress on the multi-course format, which is "the next job ... it’s, frankly, a matter of money".

"We’ve said for a long time three courses is something we want to achieve, but do to that we have to add another $200,000, $300,000 at least to infrastructure costs.

"Everything we’ve done, we’ve tried to be sustainable in what we do, rather than just go off and do something and then go broke [but] that’s certainly in the plan."

He notes, though, every time the Open organisers raise money, it’s to improve prize money — this year the total purse is $2million — to ensure the tournament’s meaningful, globally.

"As you know, some parts of the golfing world’s gone nuts.

"We’ll never be able to compete with the nutty end of the game — I guess nuts is a great place if you’re a player in the top 30 in the world, but there’s a level which we’re close to achieving, actually, of where we want to be", which is in the "upper reaches" of the Asian, Japan and Australasian tours.

He appreciates, too, Queenstown’s attractiveness for players has buoyed the tournament’s success.

"I’ve just been talking to Asian Tour players, a lot of them have flown 20 hours from Oman ... to get here and only have time for one practice round.

"[That] probably says a lot about their desire to play in this event."

At present, Glading says the tournament is secured for another three years in the resort, with a right of renewal.

"All parties are pretty keen to keep it going.

"I think Queenstown ... is very much the jewel in this crown and we’re very keen to keep it here.

"The format we have, the facilities, the golf courses, new courses being built; it’d be a brave man that took it away from here."