Champions teed up for launch

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In a tribute to the 100th New Zealand Open, past champions will play a unique Par 3 event on the eve of the tournament.

Making the February 27 event even more special is it’s the first at jeweller Sir Michael Hill’s newly-built Par 3 golf course, The Farm, near Arrowtown.

Designed by world-renowned Planet Golf author Darius Oliver, it’s immediately south of Hill’s championship course, The Hills, which is again co-hosting the Open with nearby Millbrook Resort.

Past champions teeing up include Kiwi stars Sir Bob Charles, Michael Campbell, Greg Turner and Michael Hendry, along with several Australians including last year’s winner, Daniel Nisbet.

The event – loosely based on the Par-3 nine-holer held before the US Masters each year – will also include top Kiwi golfer Ryan Fox, tournament ambassadors like sporting greats Sir Ian Botham, Tom Walsh, Stephen Fleming, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Jeff Wilson and Brendon McCullum, plus a select group of amateurs.

“We have decided to open the gates and allow the public to come in at no charge and enjoy this special occasion at a very special venue,” NZ Open tournament director Michael Glading says.

The Farm follows the topography of former farmland, including the Arrow irrigation water race.

“Of all my lifetime goals, the building and construction of my Par 3 course, The Farm, stands alone as possibly my finest achievement,” Hill says.

He’s thrilled it can play a part in celebrating a “significant milestone in the history of NZ sport.”

scoop@scene.co.nz