2017 World Masters Games
World Masters Games roll into Auckland
By Denise Langdon, PaR nz Golfing Holidays
Golf is one of the most popular of the 28 sports set down for the 9th World Masters Games to be held at Auckland in late April.
A few days after the opening ceremony on April 21 at Eden Park, 720 golfers from around the globe will play rounds at Auckland-based clubs Muriwai, Pakuranga and Akarana. Leaders from these three rounds will advance to the final at Remuera Golf Club, the destined new home of New Zealand Golf.
Recognised by the International Olympic Committee and held every four years, the World Masters Games are today one of the largest international sporting occasions.
25,000 participants will compete in their loved sports over the 10-day carnival in Auckland. That is more than double the number of athletes who competed at the London Olympics in 2012. If you then add a further 2000 non-playing officials, coaches and managers, that number tops 27,000.
The youngest competitor at the Games will be 25, and the oldest 101. In terms of volunteer support, the 4000 registered volunteers signed up across the various codes in addition to assistance with crowd control, manning information desks and transport zones, and the like. Compare this with the 2000 volunteers on board when New Zealand hosted the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The financial numbers are equally staggering. The 25,000 competitors were offered a choice of three packages ranging from NZ$295 to NZ$825. Assuming, say, athletes bought the various packages in three equal lots, that is an estimated budget well over $12millon from competitor entries alone. My personal opinion is that this figure is light. Based on anecdotal evidence from various competitors I have spoken to, many have opted for the higher-priced packages that include opening and closing functions and a range of other services and attractions.
The three chosen golf club venues will get a real boost. Each venue will host two groups of players in morning and afternoon fields on April 24, 26 and 27.
Akarana is set in the inner southern suburbs close to the Auckland central business district, and offers a beautifully maintained parkland course with some rolling terrain, several water features and 30 bunkers. A tight, tree-lined par 70 course, it has more than a thousand mature trees.
Just prior to the World Masters Golf, Akarana will have hosted the 2017 Barfoot & Thompson Open, one of the New Zealand Charles events targeted at the country’s professionals and those leading amateurs seeking a ‘stepping stone’ to the professional ranks.
Pakuranga is a par 72-championship course in the eastern suburbs of Auckland. The front nine opens significantly ‘tighter’ than the back nine. Challenging and long, the par 5s are a signature of this course. Originally planned as a country club with a golf course, Pakuranga dates to 1969.
Muriwai will offer the 2017 masters golfers their only links challenge. Located to the west of the city on the black sand dunes of Muriwai beach, a stunning coastal outlook will greet golfers and visitors. The course has suffered from erosion over the years, and the current layout dates to the late 1990s when the club leased council land so it could relocate several holes previously affected by buffeting waves.
The Muriwai course is a championship par-73 course that ranks 12th on New Zealand's best course list. It presents challenges in all seasons and weather conditions but it is easy walking on the close-mown kikuyu fairways. Though the bentcross/poa greens have many testing contours, they are noted for rolling beautifully. Golfers may even get a view of the gannet colony on Muriwai Beach if some of the birds linger before their winter migration?
After 54 holes of gross stableford and stableford competition, the field will be cut to 240, with the final being played at Remuera Golf Club.
Since it was formed in 1934, Remuera has hosted numerous national and international amateur events, along with many professional tournaments including the 2016 PGA Championship. Auckland Golf Association has its head office at the club, and New Zealand Golf is scheduled to relocate its headquarters there soon.
The course presents a challenging layout with undulating fairways, clever bunkering and picturesque water features. Remuera attracts a large corporate following for both golf and other non-golf functions. It has a split-level clubhouse, a modern public driving range, and is only 15 minutes from Auckland’s CBD and close to vibrant inner suburbs such as Parnell and Newmarket.
It all makes for an exciting 10 days of sport in New Zealand’s largest city, culminating in a closing ceremony on April 30 at Queen’s Wharf ‘The Cloud’ venue next to the Waitemata Harbour.
Australia has hosted the World Masters three times, the 2021 venue of Kansai, Japan, is already confirmed – but now is New Zealand’s time to shine.