Royal Wellington to host world class tournament

A $6.5 million redevelopment of the Royal Wellington golf course has received an early dividend.

It was announced last month that Royal Wellington would host the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which has quickly developed into one of the world's most prestigious amateur golf tournaments.

The Royal Wellington Golf Club. PHOTO: DAVID BRADLEY/ROYAL WELLINGTON GOLF CLUB

The Royal Wellington Golf Club. PHOTO: DAVID BRADLEY/ROYAL WELLINGTON GOLF CLUB

The announcement comes just a couple of years after Royal Wellington's course at Heretaugna in Upper Hutt underwent a major transformation.

The new course was designed by Scott Macpherson and former New Zealand professional golfer Greg Turner.

Turner said getting an event of this size vindicated the club's decision to invest so much into the course.

``To get the nod is great, it's not something [Royal Wellington] could even have envisaged before the big renovation,'' Turner told The Dominion-Post newspaper.

"They wanted to have a course for the members, but they also wanted it to be able to host any event that might come along. It's tricky to do but I guess we achieved the brief."

The Asia-Pacific tournament has only been existence since 2009 but it has already produced some of the world's most promising players.

Hideki Matsuyama, from Japan, is a two-time winner and is now ranked amongst the worlds' top 20 professionals.

The 2012 winner was Guan Tianlang of China. The following year he went on to become the youngest person to make the cut at The Masters at the age of 14.

The tournament will be televised live in 160 countries with the winner gaining a start in the following year's Masters in the United States. The winner will also gain a start in the final qualifying series to the British Open.

The tournament is supported by it's three founding partners, the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The Royal & Ancient. As a consequence the cost of hosting the event comes at virtually no cost to New Zealand Golf.

Royal Wellington club captain Andrew Meehan said in terms of drawing attention to New Zealand it was up with hosting a Rugby World Cup.

“Hosting this tournament will give New Zealand international exposure only possible through an event like the Rugby World Cup," Meehan said.

“Hosting this tournament at Heretaunga is the culmination of a lot of work and considerable planning by many people.

``New Zealand Golf has been working for some time to get the event to New Zealand including hosting a number of visits from both the Masters Tournament and The R&A who selected Royal Wellington after visiting and reviewing a number of great New Zealand courses.''

Another advantage of being host will be that New Zealand will be able to have 10 players in the tournament instead of the normal maximum number of six per country.

Any top amateur will be delaying turning professional until after this event, which will be held in October of 2107.

Meehan said the event will be ``arguably the most important golf tournament ever held in New Zealand.''

“It will be broadcast live to more than 160 countries and give unprecedented exposure to our course, and golf tourism in New Zealand,” Meehan said.

NZ Golf chairman Paul Fyfe added: “It is an extraordinary privilege for this event to be hosted in New Zealand.

“It offers a wonderful playing opportunity for our best young developing players, and New Zealand has an opportunity to present itself on the world stage in a way not seen before in our sport.”