The country’s premier golfing event, The New Zealand Open, tees off late February next year set against the dramatic Southern Alps in Queenstown at both Millbrook Resort and The Hills.
With the tournament preparations well underway, the organisers are buoyed with the announcements of both a new presenting partner and that the tournament is opening its gates to allow everyone to enjoy this iconic Kiwi event for free.
“It’s pleasing to have such an iconic New Zealand company providing support for our tournament,” said New Zealand Open Tournament Chairman, John Hart on the commitment Sky have made to the tournament.
“This commitment from Sky allows us to continue planning for a positive long-term future for the tournament, as we strive to become one of the world’s pre-eminent Pro-Am events.”
On the back of the Sky partnership, the tournament organisers have also announced that they are opening their gates for the 2020 tournament with free entry allowing everyone the ability to watch the best golfers from across New Zealand, Australia and Asia in action.
Tournament Director Michael Glading says that this move has been made to entice people from across the country to come and enjoy everything that the New Zealand Open has to offer.
“We’ve held the Open in Queenstown for eight consecutive years and as an event, it’s reached the level of maturity and support that means we can open our gates for the 2020 event” says Glading.
“While we’re making the event free entry there will be a charge for car parking with all proceeds going to the Rotary Club of Queenstown to distribute,” he says. “As part of the evolution of the event we’ve always wanted the Open to have a larger charity element” says Glading.
The tournament is set as a Pro-Am which has developed with real success over the last eight years to the stage where there is a significant list of amateurs waiting to have their opportunity to create their own memories of playing in the New Zealand Open.
While the usual one-day Pro-Ams in typical 72-hole professional tournaments draw a sigh from many, this unique business-meets-golf concept enjoys a thumbs-up from both amateur participants and professionals.
The amateurs pay to play alongside professionals in the field for the first two days of competition, with the top 40 teams progressing on to play in the third round. After that 10 teams fight it out on the final day. Those who miss the third-round cut compete in a one-day event at the superb Jack’s Point course on the Saturday.
Here’s the thing – both the amateurs and the professionals love it.
“I’ve actually had my best successes at this format at the AT&T in California,” said US-based Kiwi professional Tim Wilkinson, who is venturing to play in Queenstown for the third time. “You understand it will take a little longer, so you just relax more, enjoy the company and get to know the Amateurs.”
Aucklander Gary Sayles has played in the last four New Zealand Open tournaments as an amateur and is won over. The 10 handicapper from the Pakuranga Golf Club says the unique nature of this event has made the difference.
“It’s as if you are a pro for the day yourself. You are part of the group and you are treated like a professional. You can watch the professional up close and see how they play, and you get to listen in to the communication between the caddy and player. And the pro will give you so many tips – it is just fantastic. It is an opportunity to be inside the ropes with the pros and be part of things.”
The 101st New Zealand Open is played at Millbrook Resort and The Hills in Queenstown between the 27th of February and 1st of March 2020.
For more information on the tournament please visit nzopen.com