Thirty-six professionals will tee off tomorrow in a new look Masterton Pro-Am tournament.
The 18-hole tournament carries a purse of $15,000 and replaces the Eketāhuna-Masterton Pro-Am, which was the brainchild of the late Sir Brian ‘BJ’ Lochore and was played over two days, the first at Eketāhuna and the second at the Masterton Golf Club’s Lansdowne course.
After 20 years as a joint venture, Masterton Golf Club president Andy Pottinger said it was time to change the format to a one-day tournament.
“It was BJ’s dream, and while he was still around, we would carry on, and once he’d gone, it lost a little bit of its gloss,” Pottinger said.
“It’s a new beginning, I guess, and from our point of view, it makes it so much easier not having to split over two days, over two venues, so it’s an easier event to run.”
Each of the 36 professionals will be randomly drawn into teams of three amateurs for the round.
Tomorrow’s Pro-Am is the fourth NZPGA event in four days for most of the professionals, after similar tournaments at Palmerston North on Tuesday, Marton yesterday and Paraparaumu Beach today, meaning a good quality field will hit the Lansdowne course.
Masterton’s Kerry Mountcastle is playing on the Australian PGA Tour and will miss the tournament, as will Queenstown-based Ben Campbell. However, there is still a strong local contingent with Harry Bateman and the club’s two resident professionals, Shaun Hewitt and Joel Macklin, to tee off.
Bateman has made a solid start to the NZPGA season and sat fourth in the Order of Merit after a third placing at Palmerston North. He had previously finished tied for seventh in the season-opening Whitford Park Pro-Am, which was played over 36 holes.
Others coming into the tournament in good form are James Hydes, who finished in second place in Palmerston North and fourth at Whitford Park, and James Tauariki, who won at Palmerston North.
The first golfers will tee off at Lansdowne at 10 am tomorrow.
There has also been a change of date for Wairarapa’s other PGA event, the Martinborough Pro-Am, which will now be played on Thursday, February 1.