Tourney’s charity pitch pays off

Launching the renamed Skyline Charity Classic back in July are, from left, Simon Hayes with the...
Launching the renamed Skyline Charity Classic back in July are, from left, Simon Hayes with the Classic trophy, Skyline Queenstown GM Wayne Rose, Whakatipu Reforestation Trust chair Neill Simpson and golf club GM Andrew Bell. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Turning Queenstown Golf Club’s flagship Skyline Classic — first held in 1979 — into a charity event has resulted in a big influx of sponsors.

Being held this weekend at its epic Kelvin Peninsula course, the renamed Skyline Charity Classic will benefit a different charity over the next six years till at least the 50th running of the event.

The inaugural charity is the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust which, fittingly, is helping both the club with its native replanting programme, and also sponsor Skyline Queenstown, following its forestry programme on Bob’s Peak.

The charity element’s the idea of tournament committee member Simon Hayes, whose aim’s been "to get the Skyline back to the pre-eminent position it had".

Club GM Andrew Bell says of 21 business sponsors signed up, mostly straddling hospitality, construction and real estate, he estimates only four or five have had some sort of connection to the club.

The support garnered from new sponsors has been "based I think entirely around the fact it has moved to this charitable event".

"If we just said it was for a golf tournament, they wouldn’t be people we would traditionally have spoken to."

Two of the new sponsors have combined forces to provide a raffle prize, for example — a farm tour for eight at Royalburn Station with luxury transport provided by Limousine Services Queenstown.

And Central Otago Motor Group, PING/Inspire Golf, Altitude Brewing and Rabbit Ranch Wines are each sponsoring a hole-in-one prize for an ace on one of the course’s four par 3s.

The latter’s supplying 48 bottles — "one per week except for Dry July, apparently", Bell says.

Initially, he thought the tournament would raise about $10,000 for the reforestation trust, but he now says "it’s going to be double, if not more, than that".

Meanwhile, he says this weekend’s field — pegged at 120 pairs who play 4BBB stableford on Saturday and combined stableford on Sunday — filled up quickly.

"I think we have a significantly-bigger proportion of non-Queenstowners coming" — by his reckoning, about 160 of the golfers.

Bell says returning golfers in particular will notice the course is more bare following tree removal over the past six months — "they’re going to get a fresh outlook on Queenstown".