By Dean Murphy
New Zealand Golf Chief Executive
Last month I was delighted to announce the future of the New Zealand Women’s Open.
In partnership with our promoter, The Clubhouse (NZ) Limited, we are incredibly proud to bring the first ever LPGA event to New Zealand.
The event will boast a purse of $US1.3 million and will be the first LPGA or PGA Tour event to take place in New Zealand. This is a significant achievement and the result of a huge amount of planning and preparation over the past 18 months.
At the outset, it is important to state that this journey to bring the LPGA to New Zealand has been inspired by the once in a generation superstar that is Lydia Ko.
Never before has New Zealand had such a global phenomenon and we are incredibly thankful to receive her full support for this event. Lydia has signed on as the first player to commit to play in the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open and Lydia will also be our tournament host.
In my view, Lydia represents all that is good about New Zealand and sport. While she has world class talent and has achieved so much already in her short career, Lydia remains humble, gracious and a Kiwi girl at heart.
Best of all, Lydia conducts herself in a manner which is an inspiration to all New Zealanders. We are so pleased we are able to bring her to Auckland to compete in her home town on the world’s biggest tour.
This story also underlines the value of golf to the NZ economy and in particular through golf tourism. In-bound golf tourism delivered $329 million to New Zealand in the year ended August 2016 which was a 23 percent increase over last year and an increase from $145 million in 2013.
Back in 2013, a small group of experts, including The Clubhouse managing director Michael Goldstein, developed a NZ Golf Tourism strategy which has been instrumental in delivering these great results.
From an event perspective, the LPGA is a global tour with truly global reach. It attracts television and media viewers from around the world and this has helped us to secure significant title sponsorship support of McKayson, a Korean apparel and accessory sports brand. We are thrilled that our vision has been validated by a Korean company wishing to invest in marketing their brand through an event on New Zealand shores and in doing so invest in New Zealand sport.
The LPGA international broadcast platform will provide Auckland and New Zealand with a unique opportunity to promote ourselves to a world-wide audience in more than 150 countries with over eight hours of television coverage. We have a chance to show off the fantastic golf courses we have to this global audience throughout the broadcast.
Significantly, the event will be staged at the new Windross Farm Golf Course in south Auckland. Windross Farm is a new development that has seen over $30 million of investment to create what is a significant asset for the city of Auckland. It is a great reflection on the truly diverse nature of golf where a working class club from south Auckland has developed a world class facility that will now host one of the biggest events ever seen in New Zealand.
Bringing an event of this scale excites us at New Zealand Golf because it will provide an opportunity for us to expose the game to a huge number of New Zealanders. Golf is a unique game. It is played by people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds and all abilities and we hope this event will showcase the game and capture the interest of people across the country.
We truly hope the sporting public will get right in behind this event and support Lydia as she plays in front of her home crowd. It is an incredible unique opportunity to see the world’s best here in our backyard so I encourage you all to make plans to attend from September 28-October 1 next year. I look forward to seeing you all at Windross Farm in 10 months.