After seven years at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast, the Australian PGA Championship is heading up the M1 to Brisbane. The PGA of Australia announced last Thursday that Royal Queensland Golf Club has signed on to host the next three championships, the 2020 tournament coinciding with the club’s centenary year celebrations.
It will be the first time that the time-honoured tournament, one of the feature events on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, will be played in Queensland’s capital since 2001. Royal Queensland hosted that as well as the 2000 event, both of which were won by Robert Allenby.
PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman says the PGA is thrilled to showcase the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland: “We’re incredibly excited to return to Brisbane and the Royal Queensland Golf Club to celebrate a milestone anniversary of one of the country’s most treasured golf courses,” says Kirkman.
“Royal Queensland Golf Club is a rich breeding ground which has unearthed a number of PGA professionals, including one of the game’s icons, Greg Norman. We look forward to celebrating the club’s history with our flagship event.”
Residing on the banks of the Brisbane River, Royal Queensland has formed in 1920. The original course was designed by former Australian Open champion Carnegie Clark and opened by the Governor-General Lord Forster in 1921, the same year in which it received its ‘Royal Charter’.
In the 1980s, the construction of the Gateway Bridge across the river meant the layout was impacted, with the 12th and 17th fairways affected. However, with the duplication of the Gateway Bridge in the early 2000s, the club would lose a total of six holes to the east of the new motorway, forcing a major redesign of the layout. Course architect Michael Clayton writes of the redesign completed in 2007…
“The new course is characterised by wide fairways, very little rough, bunkers cut right into the middle of fairways at several holes and a number of undulating greens. It is quite a flat course but it asks the strategically aware to think about where best to set up the best line of approach for the next shot. No course we have designed better exemplifies the principle of players having to make up their own minds about how best to play a hole as opposed to being told exactly how to play it by the architect or superintendent.” (Source www.occmgolf.com)
Last week’s announcement brings to an end RACV Royal Pines’ string of seven consecutive tournaments, during which time the championship course was totally redeveloped under the auspices of architect Graham Marsh. Superintendent Lincoln Coombes and assistant Greg Jager worked wonders during that time, preparing both existing and new holes (and sometimes a mix of both) to championship standard every year.
The PGA tournament mantle now passes to Royal Queensland superintendent Adam Mills who has been in charge since mid-2017. Mills, who volunteered his services at the 2019 Emirates Australian Open at The Australian in December, will be preparing the course for this week’s Australian Amateur Championship which the club is co-hosting alongside Brisbane Golf Club.