ISPS Handa New Zealand Open taken to “another level” say organisers

The ISPS Handa New Zealand Open has been taken to a whole new level, and sponsors, professional players and amateurs couldn’t be more happy, say organisers.

“The professional field’s the best we’ve ever had, top players in the field show the internationalization of the event, the TV broadcast’s been very well received and gate numbers are roughly the same as last year,” said organizing committee chairman John Hart.

Describing it as “17 different events within four days”, Hart said the event was so much more than a golf tournament.

“The Pro-Am brings a lot of extra elements to the event and helps attract a whole lot of business relationships,” he said.

“There have been some hugely influential businessmen here in the last 72 hours who are here for the golf but have also been taking part in business seminars and meetings.

“Co-sanctioning the event with the Japan Tour is still a very strong strategic drive for us. We’re bringing in over $1.3m from offshore in sponsorship and investment, and Government investment is very much about the Asia region.

“We’ve made it quite clear to the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Japan Tour that our drive is to co-sanction the event in 2017.”

Longer term, Hart said the plan was still to move the event to three courses, and discussions were to be held with Jacks Point as the likely third course. For the next ten years and possibly 15 he is predicting the tournament will stay in Queenstown.

“Feedback from New Zealand Golf is that they’re delighted with where the tournament is at.

“There’s no place like Queenstown and I personally think it will stay here because Queenstown’s the attraction; it’s got a tremendous feel about it.”

The aim of the event is to be financially sustainable – Millbrook now has a five-year underwriting arrangement which will see Millbrook host the tournament for four days next year and The Hills for two, before switching each year.

Hart said attracting a top player to the Open such as Danny Lee was still a goal.

“He’s definitely a target and he’s very keen to come and play; it’s just a question of timing,” he said.

“Also Adam Scott has indicated that one day he would like to play here; he would be a great attraction.

“In terms of dates, we’d like to be a week or two earlier but Queenstown’s a small town and there are other events to fit around.”

The four-day ISPS Handa New Zealand Open has been held at Millbrook Resort and The Hills from March 10 to 13.

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