News out of Australia today is that this week’s Moonah Classic will be the final one. That tournament’s demise also means the likely end of the Nationwide Tour’s Down Under Swing.
Tournament director Tony Roosenburg told Melbourne’s The Age it was unlikely the event would continue due to lack of corporate support, poor crowds and three consecutive financial losses.
“You couldn’t imagine it could go on the way it is,” he told The Age. “I can’t see much value in continuing as a Nationwide Tour event at Moonah Links because it hasn’t been overly successful the first three years.”
Last year, the Nationwide Tour had three events in New Zealand and Australia – the New Zealand PGA Championship, New Zealand Open and Moonah Classic. The New Zealand PGA was played in 2010, but not a part of the Nationwide Tour schedule.
That leaves one Nationwide Tour event standing in the region. It would be foolish to ask players on a developmental tour to travel across the world for one event. That single trip makes up a large portion of players’ travel expenditures for the year.
The Nationwide Tour’s contract with the PGA Tour of Australasia expires this year. Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee told me at last year’s Nationwide Tour Championship that the tour was already looking at the relationship’s future when there were only two tournaments Down Under.
“For a lot of reasons, it’s been a good thing, but it’s a long way to (travel) and it’s bit expensive, so we’re kind of stepping back and looking at that relationship,” Calfee said.
There’s not much to look at now.
Roosenburg said the Open course at Moonah Links was built by Golf Australia (golf’s governing body in Australia) and designed by five-time British Open champ Peter Thomson as a potential permanent home for the Australian Open. The course was too far from Melbourne to succeed as a tournament venue, though.
‘’We haven’t had the corporate support,’’ Roosenburg told The Age.