The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia will endeavour to recapture golf’s golden years with a reimagined tournament schedule that will see the tour in full swing from October and culminate with the crowning of the Order of Merit winner in March.
The restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic has brought about significant disruption to the 2020 schedule but in order to play a full complement of events the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia will extend the season until March 2021, a format that will become the norm moving forward.
A shift to a wrap-around season would not only allow golf fans to follow the Order of Merit race more easily, but according to ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia tournaments director Nick Dastey, will also open the door for new events to be added in the January-February window.
“The coronavirus has obviously caused great disruption to golf tournaments throughout the world, but we saw an opportunity to not only provide our players with a full season this year but put in place a schedule that we believe is in the best interests of golf in Australia,” says Dastey.
“If the current restrictions do not ease in time, we now have the opportunity to push events into the early months of 2021 and give our players every opportunity to push for that Order of Merit title.
“We remain hopeful that the tournaments currently scheduled will proceed as planned but we are also exploring opportunities to add new events early next year to further bolster the schedule.
“The golf season used to run over the summer months and into the new year and we believe by adjusting the schedule in this way that it will be a positive move not only for our players but also golf fans.”
An adjusted ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia schedule centred around an October-March fixture would provide:
Currently the winner of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit receives a one-year exemption onto the European Tour and such a shift in dates would allow them time to properly prepare for a European season that often begins in November.
As Tour Development Manager, former tour player Kim Felton is tasked with creating new opportunities to add to the schedule and is excited by what an adjusted calendar offers.
“Many fans will remember the Aussie summer of golf starting in October and carrying the excitement of the Order of Merit chase into January and February. Rolling back to this will give us the potential to host more events, which will significantly enhance the quality of our schedule,” says Felton.
“We are confident the new-look schedule will reinvigorate the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and allow golf fans to be more engaged in the careers of our Aussie golfers. In some respects this change, brought upon by COVID-19, has been fortuitous and we’re really excited by what it allows us to do and what a wrap-around season can potentially look like.”
The return of a wrap-around Australian summer of golf won’t impact the Australian PGA Championship, with the PGA’s flagship event returning to its traditional timeslot. Subject to the approval of government and health authorities, the 2020 event will be played on December 3-6 at Royal Queensland Golf Club (superintendent Adam Mills) in celebration of the club’s centenary year.
Kirkman said the PGA will work closely with the government bodies and health authorities to ensure the event is played in a healthy and safe environment: “This year’s Australian PGA Championship will be unlike any other for a number of reasons,” says Kirkman. “We will work closely with the Queensland government and health authorities to ensure this event is conducted in a safe and healthy environment. Our team is building a number of contingency plans for every possible scenario. Our number one priority is the health and safety of all associated with the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.”