The road to the New Zealand Open in Queenstown begins tomorrow for players and spectators alike as they prepare to experience the biggest golf tournament staged in NZ for many years.
The tournament, a tier one event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, will be held from February 27 to March 2 at The Hills Golf Course and Millbrook Resort and is set to be a truly iconic sporting event.
It will include a unique pro-am format played concurrently with the professional tournament following the principles established for the 2013 NZPGA Championship with a total prize purse for the event of NZD$900,000.
Tickets go on sale from 9am tomorrow (Friday 18 October) through Ticketek (www.ticketek.co.nz).
Day passes will cost $19.99 for Thursday and Friday (includes entry into both The Hills and Millbrook) and $29.99 for Saturday and Sunday. A season pass (four day) will cost $54.99. Children under the age of 18 will have free admission.
Tournament organisers are expecting around 20,000 spectators to watch the event in Queenstown and golf fans are being urged to get in early to book their trip.
Those who get in quick will have the chance to win an epic early-bird prize that is a once in a lifetime golfing experience.
Everyone who purchases tickets before December 15 will go into the draw to play The Hills with leading Kiwi golfer and two-time New Zealand PGA Champion Michael Hendry and All Black great Justin Marshall in the weeks ahead of the tournament.
The New Zealand Open Championship will give aspiring golfers from all over New Zealand a chance to play in the championship.
The National Open will host first stage pre-qualifying events around the country on Tuesday January 28.
Royal Auckland, Paraparaumu Beach (Wellington), Shirley (Christchurch) - which are traditional Open venues - and Chisholm Park (Dunedin) will host one-round first stage pre-qualifying events.
A total of 25 spaces in the final qualifying tournaments will be up for grabs at the first stage qualifying venues.
The final stage of qualifying will be held at the Omaha Golf Club and Cromwell Golf Club on Monday February 24 and Tuesday February 25 respectively.
Ultimately a total of 10 spaces in the final New Zealand Open field will be played for at the final qualifying tournaments.
New Zealand Open Tournament Director Michael Glading said: "These qualifiers are once again making the New Zealand Open accessible for golfers all around the country to take part in our iconic golfing event. We are hugely grateful for the support of all six qualifying venues.
"Many of these courses have their own legacy of hosting memorable New Zealand Opens and we are pleased that affinity with the championship will continue in 2014.
"We have had huge interest from elite players in New Zealand and Australia asking how they can play the NZ Open and this is their chance to be part of the best week on the national golf calendar in Queenstown."
Greg Turner, a two-time winner of the New Zealand Open, believed that there was no better time or place for golf fans to book in a golfing road trip.
"I don’t think that there is much doubt that Queenstown is the mecca of golf in New Zealand," said the 50-year-old Otago professional.
Turner said that huge quality and quantity of courses that Queenstown has to offer - aside from Millbrook and The Hills there is Jack’s Point, Kelvin Heights, Arrowtown, Cromwell, Wanaka and Alexandra - sets the region aside.
"It is the ideal place for a golfing getaway with your mates and the timing of the New Zealand Open makes for a perfect week of watching some of Australasia’s best, soaking in the atmosphere and playing some great courses while here.
"With the fine dining and wine, adventure activities, sight-seeing and the beauty of Queenstown it is a complete destination. For golf fans there is no better time to be here than during the New Zealand Open."
Michael Hendry, Mark Brown and Josh Geary are among the leading Kiwis who have already confirmed they will be in Queenstown looking to end the 10-year drought of a home champion.
Tournament organisers are in the process of approaching professional and celebrity players to participate in the New Zealand Open with further announcements to be made in the coming months.
Celebrities to have previously played at The Hills include Sir Ian Botham, Hollywood actor Don Cheadle, World No.1 amateur Lydia Ko and a number of sporting icons from Australia and New Zealand. Click here for the story on voxy.co.nz.