By NEVILLE IDOUR
New Zealand golfing legend Sir Bob Charles wants to see the NZ Women’s Open on Wakatipu’s greens.
Charles tells Mountain Scene while the annual men’s NZ Open’s been extraordinarily successful, “I think we are not doing enough for women’s golf in NZ”.
“It has been three years since we had a ladies’ Open and I think somehow we have got to get it back on the golfing calendar.
“I have been speaking to a few people, including NZ Golf, and I think everybody is right behind me but, it is a matter of how we get it off the ground.”
The 83-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer says he’d like to see prize money start at a “modest $50,000” to get it going again, but that leads to bigger questions.
“When you look at the Australian Open tennis where women get equal prize money with the men, it makes you wonder what are we doing for women’s golf here in NZ. That is my big issue.”
Charles says there are a few options when it comes to bringing back the ladies, which could potentially evolve into a “festival of golf” in the Wakatipu for a fortnight, held in conjunction with the NZ Open, staged annually at Millbrook Resort and The Hills, in Arrowtown.
“It is a great time of year – the Victorian Open was a very successful event with the men and women playing side-by-side.
“Something like that would be fantastic and would give ladies’ golf in this country a shot in the arm.”
He believes any event will have to start small and build up, but contends “if there is no event, there is nothing to build or aspire to”.
A Women’s Open was held in Christchurch from 2009 till 2016, before the hoopla of an LPGA event at Auckland’s Windross Farm blew it away in the wind.
Queenstown pro Laura Hoskin’s backing the idea and believes a $50,000 purse would attract players from Australia and possibly Europe to start with.
NZ golf boss Dean Murphy’s also keen, but says funding’s the big issue.
Arrowtown Golf Club manager Micah Dickinson thinks it might be possible to run a Charles Tour-type event there, but says that would be subject for discussion by the management committee “if the possibility arose”.
Charles: “I wish I could pull a few more strings, but we have got people talking about it anyway, and that’s important.”