Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt confident bushfires smoke won’t present health hazard

“We are talking already and we’ll be talking to the Bureau of Meteorology [again] and at this point I don’t think it’s a health hazard. We need to get deeper advice and what is going to happen. At this point they’re expecting it to clear by the time the tournament starts. The outlook is really optimistic.”

The Panasonic Open in India was delayed last month when air quality reached a hazardous level and visibility was severely restricted.

The effects of the bushfire crisis is one of a number of issues Golf Australia will grapple with this week having assembled the best Stonehaven Cup field in a decade before the tournament prepares to return to Victoria next year.

Under a long-term deal with the NSW government, Golf Australia will trigger an option which allows the Australian Open to be played at Kingston Heath next year and Victoria Golf Club in 2022.

The agreement with the NSW government ends in 2023 when the event is hosted at The Australian Golf Club, which will also stage the 2021 tournament.

Pitt said another deal which uses a state – likely to be NSW or Victoria – as an anchor tenant and allows an opt out option for other years to take it throughout country would be “utopia”.

We are talking already and we’ll be talking to the Bureau of Meteorology [again] and at this point I don’t think it’s a health hazard

Stephen Pitt

Golf Australia is also bedding down its long term financial backing for the tournament with major sponsor Emirates’ deal ending this year.

“We look at The Open championship the way it rotates around and love that model, and for us that would probably be utopia,” Pitt said. “We’ve got to make sure it’s healthy and vibrant financially.


“The deal we’ve done this time with the NSW government and them being such a long term partner, to structure a couple of ‘out’ years I think people see that as really healthy. Whether we do that again I’m not sure.

“The big thing we can do around the tournament is with its financial structure. There’s positive news on the horizon as well. If you can do well with those deals, commercially it gives you greater capacity to grow the tournament.”

Former US Masters winners Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia will headline this week’s field which will also include Englishman Paul Casey, Presidents Cup captain Ernie Els and homegrown products Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.

Golf Australia reported a loss of $1.4 million last financial year during a “tricky” period, but Pitt claimed the organisation was hoping to break even next year amid renewed investment in game development.

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