Michael Hill New Zealand Open, Queenstown.
28 - 31 January, 2010
New Zealand’s premier golfing event, the 92nd Michael Hill New Zealand Open championship tees off at the picturesque ‘The Hills’ course in Arrowtown, near Queenstown, on 28 January.
The Open championship is a co-sanctioned event between the Australasian and Nationwide golfing tours, and - with more than NZ$1 million ($US600, 000) in prize money - is New Zealand’s richest sporting event.
The championship forms part of the Nationwide’s downunder swing, and will be followed by the Moonah Classic near Melbourne (4 - 7 February).
The NZ Golf Open has moved back to January this year. The earlier date will make the most of warmer weather, and coincides with summer holidays making it easier for volunteers and visitors.
Moving the date also meant that New Zealand and Australia’s best players would, for the first time in many years, have the chance to compete in the NZ Open before joining other tours offshore.
Boost to Queenstown economy
The 2010 NZ Open is the third to be held at The Hills, and by the end of play will have injected an estimated NZ$60 million of "direct spend" into the Queenstown economy.
The scenic location and mid-summer temperatures add to the appeal of the event, and bumper crowds of more than 30,000 are expected.
As well as golf enthusiasts coming to watch, visitors also use the opportunity to play some of the Queenstown region's world-class golf courses and all report heavy bookings for the next few weeks.
Jacks Point golf operations spokesman Rob Donald said there had been a noticeable increase in Australians visiting in the past few months. Direct trans-Tasman flights and competitive fees had prompted many Aussies to fly over for summer golfing holidays to escape their heat, Donald said.
The 2010 NZ Golf Open has attracted a strong field of international players including 2009 Champion Alex Prugh, from the USA.
Peter Lonard - one of Australia’s most successful golfers in the past decade - has confirmed for the tournament and heads a team of Australian top players including former champions Craig Parry (2002), Peter O’Malley (1995) and Terry Price (2004).
Peter Senior, who will embark on the Champions (seniors) Tour in the US this year, is returning along with former PGA Tour players Gavin Coles, a two-time Nationwide winner, Mark Hensby, who has won four times on the PGA Tour and Nationwide, Nick Flanaghan and Andrew Buckle.
Away from the golfing programme, a week of community events and activities will showcase the local community and give spectators a chance to enjoy local offerings.
A ‘Main Street’ village has been created in the centre of the golf course with public facilities such as food and beverage outlets and merchandise.
Planned activities include a street party in the nearby historic Arrowtown, food and wine events highlighting the region’s well known wineries and gourmet food producers.
Golf action starts next Wednesday (27.01.10) with a pro-am day where the top ranked 60 professional players partner invited amateurs around 18 holes, morning and afternoon.
The main tournament begins on Thursday (28.01.10) and Friday as 156 players negotiate their way around the challenging course. A cut will be made on Friday evening when the top 60 players and ties contest the weekend’s action.
Play on Saturday and Sunday will begin at 8am and conclude at about 6pm on the 18th green.
The Hills golf course
The Hills is an exclusive private course owned by New Zealand jeweller Michael Hill. It is set on 101 hectares (250 acres) of former deer farm on the outskirts of Arrowtown, in Central Otago.
The golf course, with a dramatic backdrop of snow clad mountains, is considered one of New Zealand’s most picturesque. The course features extensive native and exotic planting, and a Mill race that winds its way through the property feeding 10 lakes, and several ponds and waterways.
World-renowned New Zealand veteran golfer, Sir Bob Charles says The Hills is one of the best golf courses he has ever experienced.