The future of the BMW New Zealand Open is secure in Queenstown for the foreseeable future.
A Co-Hosting Agreement has been signed between Millbrook Resort, The Hills and NZ Golf, which will see the NZ Golf flagship tournament stay in Queenstown for a further minimum five years, starting in 2017.
Under this agreement Millbrook, Mr Eiichi Ishii and his family will assume the financial underwriting of the event (currently held by The Hills and Sir Michael Hill’s family for the five years ending with the 2016 event) for a minimum five-year period with an option to extend for a further five years.
The BMW New Zealand Open is a million dollar Tier One event on the Australasian PGA Tour in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour. The 2016 event will be played from March 10 to March 13 at the two iconic Queenstown courses.
BMW New Zealand Open, Arrowtown Street Party. Sir Michael Hill and Eiichi Ishii are given the keys to Arrowtown. Thursday 12 March 2015. Copyright photo: Michael Thomas / www.photosport.co.nz
Under the new agreement from 2017, the epicentre of the Tournament will alternate from year to year, with Millbrook hosting four days and The Hills two days in 2017, and vice-versa from 2018 onwards.
New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy said the organisation was “delighted” to secure the Open Championship for the foreseeable future in Arrowtown.
“Our Open has a proud and distinguished history and we’ve been delighted with the tournament’s growth since relocating to the Queenstown region,” he said.
“New Zealand Golf offers our sincere thanks to the Hill family for their considerable contribution to golf in New Zealand over the past eight years and we look forward to an ongoing relationship.
“We also thank Mr Ishii and the wider Millbrook family for their vision and support of the NZ Open Championship to date. Not only is Millbrook one of the most spectacular courses in the world, their generosity to host and underwrite future New Zealand Open Championships is truly remarkable. “
BMW New Zealand Open Organising Committee Chairman John Hart described the news as “fantastic” for both the region and NZ Golf. He also paid tribute to Sir Michael and Mr Ishii.
“By securing these two magnificent courses for a minimum further five years it gives the Tournament the impetus to continue its growth as an iconic event in the Queenstown and New Zealand calendar,” he said.
“Without Sir Michael’s initial financial and logistical support for the vision of the Tournament, getting it off the ground in 2012, the BMW New Zealand Open would not be the world-class sporting spectacle it is today, attracting professional and amateur golfers from around the world.
“We also acknowledge our sincere appreciation of ongoing Government support, which has been fundamental in establishing this event.”
In a further demonstration of its support, Millbrook will become the principal accommodation provider for the 2016 and all future events, with all amateur players staying at the resort.
Mr Ishii said: “Millbrook and the Ishii family are honoured to further strengthen our ties with the BMW New Zealand Open.
“We believe this is a fantastic international event and underwriting the NZ Open is a further example of our family’s longstanding contribution to golf and tourism in the Queenstown and Arrowtown district.
“Our recent purchase of the neighbouring farm, with the intent to expand to 36 holes, is further testament to that commitment.”
The Hills managing director Emma Hill was thrilled that Mr Ishii and Millbrook Resort shared their vision to grow the tournament.
“We’re delighted to see the progress this great Tournament has made since coming back to The Hills in 2012. We look forward to working with Millbrook and tournament organisers as we strive to achieve our collective vision for the event,” she said.
“Sir Michael’s underwrite of the event for the first five years has enabled the tournament to go from strength to strength.”
The news has also been welcomed by Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Adam Feeley.
“Major events like the NZ Open reinforce Queenstown’s reputation as a world-class four-season destination offering the very best in wine, food and luxury accommodation and a vast array of outdoor activities. The brand of the NZ Open is a perfect complement to this reputation,” he said.
“As an award-winning luxury resort and top-class golf course, Millbrook is an integral part of this. We’re delighted that their commitment to the NZ Open until 2022 will help grow the tournament.
“More importantly for Queenstown, it will help promote the district to an international audience and deliver ongoing economic benefits.”
Tournament organisers are going full-steam ahead with planning for the 2016 BMW New Zealand Open, with exciting details to be announced over coming months.