Legends event back in 2020

John Evans.
John Evans.
Dunedin will be off the radar for a year - but in 2020 it will be a must-visit destination for top legends golfers.

A disagreement with the NZPGA over sanctioning fees was a major reason behind the decision to not hold the Chisholm Links-hosted FMG New Zealand Legends Masters in 2019.

However, tournament director John Evans said it was set to join the Asian Legends Tour the next year.

There was a group of ''1500 wealthy Chinese'' involved, 100 of whom would come to play at the tournament.

If the event was sanctioned by the PGA, they would not be able to play.

That will result in its prize money sky rocketing from $35,000 to a possible $150,000, the winner receiving $30,000.

It would also bring a large group to Dunedin and have a positive impact on the economy for that weekend.

The tournament, held for the first time in February this year, attracted many big-name legends (50 and over) from around New Zealand and Australia.

These included winner Peter Fowler, as well as the likes of Mike Harwood, Guy Wall and Dunedin product Greg Turner.

Evans said the players had indicated they were keen to return, while the major sponsors had been on board, as well.

However, to become an NZPGA-sanctioned event, which it was not last year, the tournament would have to pay a fee of 6.25% of prize money and $75 per player.

That worked out at about $5000.

Evans felt it was not getting value for that money.

The main service the NZPGA would supply was working out the prize money and tax after the tournament, which he said he did himself in three hours last year.

One key point was that the Dunedin tournament was the culmination of 15 qualifying tournaments in rural areas.

While offering benefits to the rural community, those events also helped attract sponsors to run the main tournament.

Of the funds raised, Evans donated $3300 to Farmstrong, an organisation helping farmers who have fallen on hard times.

He said he proposed the NZPGA add half of its cut to that donation, but the organisation would not go for it.

Alongside the rural focus, the tournament also served to preserve the Chisholm Links.

Evans said a trend had developed around the world to close public golf courses and turn them into housing.

He had been worried by suggestions of turning Chisholm, which he believed to be the world's best public course after St Andrew's, into a dog walking park.

Holding a successful tournament for big-name players was a way to ensure the course retained its status and warned off the threat.

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