The New Zealand Golf Association is looking favourably on a push for a change in the date of the New Zealand Open.

In a meeting with association operations manager Phil Aickin in Chicago this week, the five US-based New Zealand players discussed a number of issues after disquiet over the arrangements for this year's event.

The players - Craig Perks (the only one to turn up at Paraparaumu this year for the Open), Grant Waite, Philip Tataurangi, Michael Long and Frank Nobilo - come under pressure each year to play in the New Zealand Open, but in recent years it has clashed with the start of the US PGA Tour.

One year, Nobilo was playing in a World Cup event at the time of the Open.

Next year, Perks will play the Sony and Mercedes events in Hawaii in January which clash with the NZ Open at Middlemore.

Perks said the US-based players had to choose between playing a US$200,000 ($415,000) event in New Zealand or a US$5 million tournament in the United States.

"We really look forward to coming and playing, but it's tough for everybody when you put it up against a PGA tournament, and it shouldn't be the case," he said.

The golfers told Aickin that the Open should be held in November or early December when the international circuits were clear.

Perks said it was probably too late to change the date of next year's Open, but they had pressed Aickin to do something about it from 2004.

Aickin said yesterday that the five players "are very important to us and we will try to accommodate them in any way we can."

However, the association was part of the Australasian PGA Tour and would have to discuss any change with Tour officials.

"We are already locked into dates for next year," Aickin said. Any change, if made, could only take place in 2004. Our next step is to start talking with the Australasian Tour, knowing now that perhaps a different date would certainly be a lot easier for us to attract our US-based players down to play."

Changing the date of the Open to November-December was unlikely to affect New Zealand's Europe-based players such as Michael Campbell, Greg Turner and Elliot Boult.

Perks said the US-based players had also pushed for a semi-permanent home for the Open, explaining that conditions until now had been primitive by international standards.

He said an Open venue should be able to readily cater for corporate facilities and have players' car parking and a practice range on the course.

- NZPA