Following months of speculation, the PGA of Australia yesterday (11 February) confirmed the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola is headed to a new home in 2013, officially farewelling the Sunshine Coast and Palmer Coolum Resort, which has hosted the tournament for the last 11 years.
“The PGA has today formally advised Palmer Coolum Resort of its decision that the Championship will not be returning to Coolum in 2013,” Mr. Thorburn said on Monday.
“Since May last year, the PGA has received a number of offers from Palmer Coolum Resort to continue to host the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola in 2013 and beyond.
“For various reasons, including a lack of flexibility of dates for the tournament and signage matters, none of those offers have been acceptable to the PGA and, in the interest of our Members and stakeholders, late last year we decided to look at alternative venues outside the Sunshine Coast to host the event. “
Mr. Thorburn said the PGA had received strong interest and impressive offers and submissions from several venues and regions throughout Queensland and although negotiations are ongoing, he remained confident of announcing a new host venue shortly.
The news is a devastating blow to Coolum businesses, which have come to rely on the extra visitors numbers generated by the prestigious golf tournament.
The Coolum Business and Tourism Association have long supported the PGA Championship remaining at Coolum and joined Sunshine Coast Council in acknowledging the huge economical impact that losing the tournament would have on the region.
The Association staged a week-long Festival of Golf to coincide with last year’s PGA, and President Noel Mooney did not mince his words when responding to the announcement on Monday.
“Well it is a sad, sad day that we have lost an event like the PGA. It’s been 11 years of hard work put in by a lot of people, businesses, volunteers and the council,” Mr. Mooney said.
“I suppose it takes two to make a deal happen and it is such a shame that it could not be worked out. I really do not think Clive [Palmer] wanted the event here.
“It is the biggest event for the Sunshine Coast; it gets televised around the world and gives us fantastic exposure and I think Clive needs all the positive exposure he can get for his resort, not the wrong reasons.
“He has his dinosaurs and don’t forget the cars and a soon to be built Putt Putt course; but Clive, you are running the resort like a ghost town. I’m sorry, but we do not need a Never Never Land in Coolum.”
Brian Thorburn recognised the efforts of the local community saying, “The Sunshine Coast has been a great home to the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola since 2002, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the local community who has tirelessly supported the tournament and embraced our players over the years.
“I’d also like to thank Sunshine Coast Council, whose support has been essential to the Championship’s success.
“Regardless of this decision, we’re committed to continuing our partnership with Sunshine Coast Council, ensuring our association remains strong in the region.
“Let me also reiterate that the Championship will remain in Queensland. The Sunshine State has hosted the Championship since 2000, and with the ongoing support of Tourism and Events Queensland, we’re committed to ensuring the tournament continues to feature on the state’s vibrant events schedule,” Mr. Thorburn added.
The PGA plans to announce the new home of the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola in the coming weeks.