Sport

Coast to lose $10m PGA event to Gold Coast or beyond

Robert Allenby on his way to winning the Australian PGA championship three years ago.
Robert Allenby on his way to winning the Australian PGA championship three years ago. Cade Mooney

THE Australian PGA looks set to go to the Gold Coast or Brisbane in what will be a multi-million-dollar blow to the region's economy.

As foreshadowed in a story in the Daily last week, Australia's PGA chief executive Brian Thorburn said Monday morning that this week's event was likely to be the last on the Sunshine Coast.

He confirmed reports that venues on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane were being investigated after negotiations broke down with the host venue Palmer Coolum Resort.

There's also speculation the event could be snatched by resorts out of Queensland with the NSW and even WA governments more likely to throw cash at it.

Mr Thorburn would not detail the shortfall involved but said it was a six figure sum.

The former Hyatt Regency Coolum has not only played host to the event but also sponsored it, believing that it was invaluable in promoting the resort and the Coast to the international market, particularly Asia.

But last week, Palmer resort general manager Bill Schoch revealed the resort was refusing to pay a "remarkable sum of cash" that the property's previous management had provided through sponsorship to the tournament.

Schoch said the property would not continue the Hyatt Regency's practice of serving as both the host venue and a major sponsor of the event.

According to studies released by Events Queensland, the PGA is worth about $10 million to the Sunshine Coast with it attracting about 35,000 spectators.

 

Many golfing fans travel to the Coast to spend the week here to watch some of the great names of the game compete in the final tournament of the calendar year.

 

Sunshine Coast Business Council chair Sandy Zubrinich described the developments as a 'slap in the face' for the region, which was trying to promote itself as being 'open for business'.

"We don't need any more bad news,'' Ms Zubrinich told the ABC.

"It would be really nice to think that calmer, level heads might (prevail) and get this thing back on track.''

"We don't know what has broken down here. We can only take it from what we read but I would have thought that Mr Palmer would be interested in retaining his four star resort (reputation) here.''

"I would have thought this was a terrific opportunity for international branding and would go hand in hand with previous comments I have heard Mr Palmer to make (about putting the Coast on a world stage),'' she said.

Truce called after Sunday signs stouch at Australian PGA

MINING magnate Clive Palmer and organisers of the Australian PGA golf tournament appear to have called a truce after several days of disagreement which, at one stage, appeared to threaten this year's event going ahead.

Unconfirmed reports yesterday afternoon said Mr Palmer had locked PGA organisers out of his Coolum resort and told them they could not hold their tournament on his course after a dispute over signage.

Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia, later released a statement confirming his organisation had been "addressing some signage concerns" with the resort.

He did not comment on reports the dispute centred around Mr Palmer wanting to display signs for his Titanic brand during the event.

"I'm pleased to say that the issues have been resolved this afternoon and the tournament will remain unaffected," Mr Thorburn said.

Palmer Coolum Resort general manager Bill Schoch later issued an internal statement to resort staff, saying "any dispute between the PGA and the resort has now been amicably resolved".

"We all look forward to a wonderful sporting contest over the coming week," it said.

The Australian PGA, which is scheduled to begin on Thursday, has been under a cloud since Mr Palmer bought the former Hyatt Coolum resort.

Mr Thorburn last week confirmed the event was looking for a new home.

Topics:  palmer



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