8 Dec 2011 - WWW.SCENE.CO.NZ - Philip Chandler
Arrowtown mega-jeweller Sir Michael Hill believes his NZ PGA Pro-Am will become one of the southern hemisphere’s biggest golf events.
Prime Minister John Key launched the championship – a joint venture between the New Zealand Professional Golf Association and Hill’s private course – this week. The inaugural event, an outgrowth of the former NZ PGA Championship, runs at The Hills from March 29-April 1. Organisers want it to join the lucrative OneAsia Tour by 2013.
“This could be a significant boost to the economy – it’d be by far the biggest sporting event here,” Hill says.
Hill, who lost NZ Open host rights after three tournaments, has a five-year deal with an option for 10 years.
The pro-am could also morph into a three-course event like Scotland’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and America’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The Main Street food/wine/retail area will be located between the 14th and 15th fairways. A party hole is also likely to be designated.
Main Street to be a main feature of new golf tournament at The Hills
A relocated Main Street food, wine and retail hub will be a major feature of a new golf tournament.
The inaugural NZ PGA Pro-Am Champion – to run at Arrowtown’s The Hills course from March 29-April 1 – will include a Main Street area between the 14th and 15th fairways.
A Main Street featured in the three editions of the New Zealand Open held at The Hills from 2007-2010.
However the relocated area will allow spectators to keep an eye on the golf.
Tournament director Michael Glading states: “The whole idea of having essentially a small wine and food festival located within the event means that, without being typecast, dad’s keen on golf but mum and the kids are no so keen, so they’re going to come and be entertained and love it as well.
“If dad wants to go off and watch the last five holes, that’s cool, and mum can actually be pretty close by but still able to see the golf if she wants to.
“That’s about it being an experience rather than simply going and watching guys hit a white ball around.”
Glading says he hopes Main Street can showcase NZ and Queenstown’s world-class food and wine.
Glading also hopes there’ll be kids’ entertainment like a bouncy castle and a fun golf instruction game.
Main Street organiser, Arrowtowner Malcolm Blakey, says he’s hoping for about 25 stall-holders,
“Food and beverage operators, retailers and property companies will be able to book space on Main Street from next week.”
Glading says stall hire will cost less than it did during the NZ Opens.
“That areas is not, for us, about generating extra revenue, it’s about adding to the experience, and that’s quite a significant change of mentality.”
Glading adds there’s a good chance there’s be another party hole at the Pro-Am.
The 15th was the Heineken-sponsored party hole during the NZ Open – Welshman aced the par-four hole at the 2009 Open, which won him 1500 Heineken bottles.
“The party hole added to the experience last time and that’s something that we’d like to do again,” Glading says.