Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Australian PGA not moving too far from Jeff the dinosaur
(Reuters) - The Australian PGA Championship is swapping Jeff the dinosaur and advert-splattered Coolum for Royal Pines on the Gold Coast after the course promised to spend A$5 million (3.38 million pounds) on upgrades, the PGA of Australia said on Wednesday.
The OneAsia co-sanctioned event had been previously held at the Clive Palmer-owned Coolum resort on Queensland's Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane for 11 years.
However that relationship ended last December after a dispute over sponsorship between the golf body and the billionaire mining magnate.
The Coolum resort painted 61 adverts on the fairways and installed 'Jeff', a 20-metre long, eight metre-high dinosaur between the ninth and 10th holes for last year's tournament, though the PGA said at the time the decision to move was purely commercial.
"We'd previously had feedback from a number of potential sponsors that they would be interested in key sponsorships if the tournament moved to a region with a larger population base," PGA chief Brian Thorburn said on Wednesday in announcing the move to the Gold Coast, which is south of Brisbane.
"So we've now put the event in the best possible position to reach new heights in terms of entertainment value, prize money and commercial opportunities."
Royal Pines, which also hosts the Australian Ladies Masters, had promised to spend A$5 million over the next three years to upgrade the course, the PGA said.
The tournament's move had also been approved by the Queensland state government and local government in the Gold Coast region, which will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Australian PGA is one of four marquee tournaments in Australia's golf calendar.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)