For Waite, now playing with success on the US Champions Tour, it is a homecoming with the New Zealand PGA at his home course at the Manawatu Golf Club on 2-5 March.
The 1992 New Zealand Open winner will then head south for the New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort and The Hills in Queenstown on the following week.
The decision coincides with Waite’s return to the playing ranks over the last two years to the Champions Tour in the USA where he has enjoyed healthy rewards.
Waite’s initial professional playing career spanned from 1987 to 2010 during which time he amassed around NZ$ 8million in prizemoney with four victories at the New Zealand Open, the Utah Open and the Trafalgar Capital Classic all in 1992, followed by his sole PGA Tour win at the 1993 Kemper Open. He also had five runner-up efforts on the PGA Tour where he claimed 22 top-10s.
His New Zealand Open success came at Paraparaumu Beach where he won by one shot with his score of 268 bettering the 1984 course record set by American Corey Pavin.
He turned to golf instruction in 2010 with a number of high-profile PGA players knocking on his door including Aaron Baddeley, Charles Howell III and Daniel Summerhays “who all seemed to enjoy improvement after I worked with them.”
But Waite never lost his passion for the game, and when he turned 50, he qualified for the Champions Tour, finishing third in the US Seniors Championship in 2015 and securing three top-15 finishes last year.
“When I heard that my home course at Manawatu Golf Club was hosting the New Zealand PGA, and it fell at a time I am not playing, that it was a great reason to come home,” said Waite, who last played in this country at the Open in 2010 in Queenstown. “When I found out the New Zealand Open was the following week it was just perfect to play in both.”
Waite said he is excited to play on his old home course which has produced two other PGA players in Craig Perks and Tim Wilkinson.
“I don’t know the statistics but for three players to make it on to the PGA from the same golf club must be reasonably unique. Both myself and Craig have had wins on the PGA and we are hoping Tim achieves that as well. It was a club that always supported and promoted juniors and I am excited to return.”
New Zealand PGA General Manager Dominic Sainsbury said Waite’s commitment to the tournament was a significant boost.
“Not only is Grant one of our most successful professionals and one of a handful to win on the PGA Tour, he has such close links to Palmerston North. He is still a fine professional and has impressed on the Champions Tour and also one of the most respected students of the game,” said Sainsbury.
ISPS Handa New Zealand Open Tournament Director, Michael Glading, said they welcome Waite back to Queenstown.
“It’s great that Grant has returned to competitive golf in the USA. He has impressed on the Champions Tour and has both the game and the fitness to be a contender in Queenstown,” said Glading. “He enjoys this format of the game and it will be an absolute thrill for the amateurs drawn with him.”
The ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a NZ$1 million Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour, to be played in Queenstown at Millbrook Resort and The Hills on 9-12 March.
The LawnMaster Horizon Golf NZPGA Championship is a PGA of Australasia event with prizemoney of $125,000 to be played at Palmerston North Golf Club on 2-5 March.