Rain won’t deter players or spectators at a virtual golf event three days out from the start of the New Zealand Open golf tourney at Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort.

Pros coming to the Open are being invited to tee-up for a round in the fairly-lucrative NEXT Golf Tour — using Trackman technology — at Queenstown indoor golf centre, Golf Federation, on Athol St.

On February 26, players will play a ‘virtual’ round of the 18-hole Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort in Florida — host of the United States PGA Tour’s annual Valspar Championship.

Centre director Ben Guilford says up to four players can play the course in each of four simulator bays, though they also have the option of playing the round, from next Friday, using any other Trackman simulator.

There’s a minimum prize pool of $US150,000 ($NZ247,000), provided primarily by Trackman but with a contribution from Europe’s DP World Tour, which also supports the NEXT tour.

Out of that purse, the winner would receive $US50,000 ($NZ82,000).

However, that prize pool increases the more entries there are — Guilford’s hoping for a 32-strong field.

Of the $US130 entry fee, $US100 goes towards the prize purse.

Players use a purpose-built app to record their round, automatically uploaded to Trackman after each hole, so people can track their progress via the tour’s website.

However, Guilford says the tournament also offers the chance for golf aficionados to get up close to the pros in his Athol St centre.

‘‘You can actually go and chat to them, you can stand a metre away and ask them how they’re going.’’

And for the winner to take home at least $82,000, ‘‘it’s not a bad way to start the week’’.

Though it’s ‘virtual’ golf, Guilford stresses it’s ‘‘a real golf ball, a real club, real putting’’.

‘‘Everything’s real other than, obviously, not hitting out doors.’’

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