Calls to re-circulate New Zealand Golf Open around the country
A former golf board president is concerned New Zealand's centralised golf open is detracting from the game in the regions.
Neil Woodbury, based in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, said the tournament belonged to every golfer in New Zealand.
"To me, it's not an open championship any more."
Woodbury said membership at clubs in the regions were taking a hit, partly because the tournament was not circulated around.
"I think it's a great pity. In New Zealand a great many clubs lose members. They've had to merge or close down. The game has lost some of its mana."
However, New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy said the tournament's new guise had not negatively impacted club membership in the regions in any way.
The New Zealand Golf Open is now based at The Hills and Millbrook courses in Arrowtown, and has been held there in seven of the past nine years.
Woodbury said the Boulcott's Farm Heritage Golf Club in Lower Hutt had dropped from 1300 members to 800 since he left about five years ago, although the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club had maintained a stable membership due to an influx of junior players.
Paraparaumu Beach had conducted "magnificent events" in the past and was strategically placed so people from Wellington, Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay and Taranaki could attend.
It could be on a venue rotation for the open, along with standout courses from around the country, he said.
Woodbury was on the NZ Golf Board for 25 years, and spent the final 10 as chairman and president before resigning in 2003.
Murphy said there was no set policy on where the event was hosted, but it would remain in Arrowtown for the foreseeable future.
"The quality of the golf courses and the financial model each work in this location, and we are very comfortable with the current arrangements."
The shift to Arrowtown was to develop a funding model to host a "premiere-level" event - about $5million in funding was needed to provide a prize purse over $1m.
PBGC manager Leo Barber said the course was still garnering attention from national and international visitors, despite not having hosted the NZ Open since 2002, the year Tiger Woods came to town.
"The Paraparaumu club would like to once again stage the Open Championship, but members also appreciate that sponsorship arrangements are a key factor in hosting the event and that there are commercial realities associated with the open in its current format."
Boulcott's Farm general manager John Freer said the decision came back to the "economic viability" of the event.
"I think people have to be realistic in this day and age. The cost of putting on the New Zealand Golf Open is very significant."
Other important tournaments like the NZPGA and Charles Tour were still hosted in the regions, he said.
Freer said the club's membership had grown by 56 members this year, to about 900 overall. He said the decline had been more about the merger of two clubs into one and a revamp of the course.
"Having builders and diggers on course is not conducive to good golf."
PBGC has hosted the open on 12 occasions. Boulcott's Farm has not hosted the open.