There has been a buzz around Te Puke Golf Club since the announcement the New Zealand PGA Championship is heading its way.
It will be the first time the championship has been held in Te Puke and the club is determined it will be more than just a golf tournament. The tournament will run from April 28 to May 2.
''What we are trying to do here is create an event rather than just a golf tournament,'' said club manager Bevan Jackson.
''Those big horse racing meetings like Cup Week in Christchurch, you get all those people going along who don't necessarily follow horse racing but they go to an event.''
The tournament will have a kids' zone and a sponsored party hole.
''That's why we are doing things like the party hole. People can come along, watch a bit of golf, but enjoy a really cool environment."
Club pro Jared Pender said it would be the same with the kids' zone.
''There will be blow-up castles and pony rides - it won't just be for people coming that are into golf, especially with it being school holiday time.''
Since the announcement at the start of the month, there has been a lot of excitement around the club, Jackson said.
''It's been massive, and it's quite cool because we are going to need a stack of volunteers. You can't do an event on this scale without a lot of volunteers and people are putting their hands up left, right and centre to help out,'' Jackson said.
Difficulty around overseas travel means there is likely to be a top-class field with golfers who would normally be overseas lining up for the title.
''Guys like Ryan Fox have indicated, based on their travel plans, they are keen to play here and Michael Hendry is in the same boat, so hopefully we can get those names confirmed."
While big tournaments have been held in Te Puke in the past, hosting the NZPGA Championship is ''next level stuff", Pender said.
''Josh Geary, one of the pros here, just said in passing 'why don't you come and look at Te Puke?' and it snowballed from there,'' Jackson said.
''It just worked out well that we had nothing on around that time, so it was just a matter of pushing a few dates around and a few conversations and then probably within two weeks of them asking, we signed on the dotted line.''
Jackson said the course was in excellent condition, and little extra work will be needed.
''I guess we are lucky the course is in such incredible condition and that there's not too much extra to be done - just pushing a few tee blocks back and making the greens slightly quicker. The course is in such mint condition, that's probably one of the reasons why they wanted to come here.''
Pender said the course is probably one of the best laid out courses around.
''It will fall pretty easily, condition-wise, into what [PGA of NZ] want. And there are gettable holes and there are holes that you just get your head down, make par and move on.''
Sky TV has provisionally agreed to screen the tournament.
''We are still working out the final details, but we've had a handshake agreement,'' Jackson said.
''You can't buy that sort of exposure - someone watching the last day and thinking 'that looks amazing, I want to go and play there' - you can't really pay for that sort of thing.''
PGA of New Zealand general manager Dominic Sainsbury said with the New Zealand Open locked into Queenstown, the PGA was seeking to showcase elite professional golf to the regions through the NZ PGA Championship.
''We like to take the tournament around heartland New Zealand because these professionals are the role models, the people that inspire the next generation to play more golf, so we've got this goal of taking it around the regions and we are always looking at ways of doing that.''
He said the Te Puke course was always presented immaculately.
''It's a fantastic golf course and it's a wonderful community that wraps around it as regards the members they've got there.''
He said the course was also a good test.
''You need to play real good quality golf shots. The fairways are fair but they're also quite tight. It demands a lot off the tee. But it's a really, really nice golf course and it's amazingly presented as well.''
The NZ PGA Championship wasn't held in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hospitality tables will be available for the tournament - contact the club for details.