By Dean Murphy, NZ Golf
Recently I had the privilege to be part of an announcement where it was confirmed New Zealand is to host one of the world’s most prestigious amateur golf tournaments.
The Royal Wellington Golf Club has been awarded the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship which will be held from October 26-29 in 2017. This will mark the first time the event has been held in New Zealand.
As the event moves throughout the region, it has now been held in China (2009, 2013), Japan (2010), Singapore (2011), Thailand (2012), Australia (2014) and Hong Kong (this year). In 2016 it will be held at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea, which was the recent host course for the Presidents' Cup.
Having been in attendance for a number of these events in its short history, I can honestly say it is like no other amateur event in the world. The setup rivals that of a PGA Tour event and the opportunities on offer for the players ensures a fierce level of top quality competition.
The tournament is supported by three founding partners. They are the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The Royal &Ancient. It is one of the largest tournaments of its type in the world, with the winner getting a place directly into the following year’s Masters field ass well as a spot in The Open Qualifying Series, the final stage to gain entry into The Open Championship. These are amazing opportunities for young amateur players.
Established in 2009, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship has quickly become one of the most celebrated amateur golf tournaments in the world with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama a two-time winner. Given it has become such a wonderful event, New Zealand Golf has been working for a number of years to bring this event to New Zealand and it is fitting Royal Wellington was selected as host venue.
The club has hosted seven New Zealand Opens since 1912, and in 2004 became the first golf club in the country to receive Royal status. The course recently underwent a stunning redevelopment by designers by Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson, which included the creation of 13 new holes and new greens, tees and bunkers. The new layout resulted in a par-72 course measuring 7219 yards.
There will be a number of benefits generating by New Zealand’s hosting of this event. Not only will it generate substantial economic returns for the Wellington region, it will create an enormous amount of profile and attention on golf. All going to plan, we will be able to use this profile as an enabler for growing participation and interest in the sport.
From a global perspective, television coverage of this event will include three hours of live broadcast on each of the four days and a 30-minute highlights' show. This will be aired in more than 160 countries, confirming it as the world’s most televised amateur golf tournament. This provides New Zealand with an almost unrivalled opportunity to promote ourselves as a golfing destination for international travellers – something all clubs in the country can benefit from.
Perhaps most importantly however, this event provides an enormous opportunity for our young amateur players. As host country, we will have 10 players in the field as against six from most other countries. This provides our best young stars a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete on home soild for a place in the Masters field and the Open qualifying series. The players I have spoken to,since the announcement, are excited and as well they should be. This is a fantastic opportunity for them and a great privilege for us as a country. Bring on October 2017.