In a welcome move, The Hills Invitation ProAm will this year be a NZPGA sanctioned tournament in a significant step forward for the very popular event.
Tournament organiser Craig Palmer said, “Because we have run the event independently until now, avoiding clashes with other events to secure a suitable date has always been a challenge.”
The 2019 event had to be held in January 2020 with the current titleholder being Mark Brown who has been a regular every year.
Sir Michael Hill was the driving force in having New Zealand’s premier Men’s PGA and then New Zealand Open events reborn when moved to his internationally renowned golf course in Arrowtown some years ago.
In the recent NZ Golf Magazine Top 40 Golf Course Rankings The Hills was listed at number 3.
“This year we have worked closely with the NZPGA and have reached an agreement that will see the event PGA sanctioned,” said Palmer.
While this is the case, The Hills will retain the freedom to have significant input about which professionals play.
The tournament has been scheduled for the weekend of December 19 and 20.
“Collectively The Hills and the PGA have produced a qualification/invitation process that will help ensure the strongest possible professional field,” said Palmer.
The top 10 players on the Ramada PGA Order of Merit, at a date to be decided will be joined by the PGA Club Professional Champion and the PGA Trainee Champion.
The remaining eight players in the 20 man field will be invited by The Hills.
Apart from the revised process for qualifying very little will change. It will remain a fun relaxed weekend and end of year celebration.
However with that to look forward to, a prize pool of $50,000 and a field of 20, it has become a must for New Zealand professionals.
It is now a major event on the New Zealand calendar.