Hart 'we failed'
More crowds are needed at Arrowtown's NZPGA golf tournament for it to be the raging success it could be, tournament chairman John Hart says.
Mr Hart, addressing the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce was blunt in his apologies for not getting the Queenstown, Wanaka and wider Otago and Southland regions more involved in the inaugural tournament, held in March this year.
''We failed in one major area, but the tournament was only announced in December 2011,'' he said.
''We were total novices, and failed miserably in not engaging with Queenstown, Otago, and the Southland regions - and didn't get the crowds as a result.''
With more general awareness of the 2013 tournament, and by shifting the event forward by a month and dovetailing it with England Vs New Zealand cricket match to be played in Queenstown, organisers are hoping to drastically bolster crowd numbers.
To help with getting people to and from the tournament, $5 busses will be running to The Hills from downtown Queenstown for the duration of the tournament.
Shifting the tournament forward to start in late February also meant there was longer daylight hours, which was important for players, as was increasing the prize pool from $500,000 to $600,000, which meant all important world ranking points would be earned by top placing tournament players.
Four of the top seven players in the Australian Open, which ended last Sunday, look to be starters for the tournament, as well as rising Japanese golf star Koumei Oda, although this was not confirmed by Mr Hart.
New Zealand's own golf superstar, Lydia Ko was also a huge fan of the tournament after playing in March, and had turned down an offer to play in a major Singaporean golf tournament in favour of committing to the Arrowtown tournament, Mr Hart said.
Although amateur signings were still under intense negotiation New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had committed to join cricket's most well known face, ex-England superstar all-rounder, captain and lovable rouge, Sir Ian Botham.
To help boost the invariable relationship between elite golfing and top international businessmen, a two day sideline golf tournament, to be held at Jacks Point and Millbrook had also been added to the schedule.
''So far we've had great interest from Japan, and have 12 very, very senior businessmen participating in the sideline event,'' Mr Hart said.
The Southland Times