Queenstown attracts people from all over the globe and even more so during the week of the New Zealand Open.
When the ‘Big Show’ rolled into town, they came from everywhere. I played with people from Texas, Hong Kong and even Pakistan during Open week.
The NZ Open has a growing reputation too, just like Queenstown. For most it is an annual jaunt, booked well in advance, with a Pro Am format that means roughly 300 players and a host of volunteers descend on the picturesque town to join the festivities of the week.
It has grown into such a special event that it is definitely a ticket you want to have on your calendar.
The week before this year’s Open was the NZ PGA in Palmerston North, a short plane ride from the north island of New Zealand to the holiday capital.
There were a few guys at the NZ PGA on the cusp – the cusp of getting their start the following week in New Zealand’s biggest golfing event for 2017.
I was one of them. Coming out of Q School this year meant I was on the edge, but fortunately for me my number was called early in the week.
Many players were waiting for that email to say you had a start and some were simply playing for their spot through the exemptions from the NZ PGA event that week. Such is the fragility of tour life when coming from Q School it means planning is very difficult and, most times, expensive.
The protocol on tour is usually whoever books and pays gets first choice and then it is either first-in first-served or you play for the best rooms in practice rounds.
It doesn’t seem fair at times as we get the least amount of starts into the big events on tour but due to last minute travel plans we pay the highest price for airfares and accommodation.
Last minute plane fares aren’t usually cheap and finding some of the billet accommodation usually on offer also becomes difficult with a late request.
This time around I ended up joining forces with four others, who hadn’t yet organised accommodation, in an attempt to make it somewhat affordable in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.
We managed to get a house big enough through AirBnB and, depending on the last minute flights we could organise from Palmerston North, all arrived in town on the Monday of the tournament week.
By the time I made it to the house, the lads first in had chosen rooms. The protocol on tour is usually whoever books and pays gets first choice and then it is either first-in first-served or you play for the best rooms in practice rounds.
Despite having booked the house and paying for it, this week was a little different, as my caddy arrived before me and two other players. So he decided he would take the upstairs room with the king-sized bed and ensuite.
He had made himself right at home and the rest of us were shoved downstairs into the other rooms available.
Now sharing a house with four other guys means there is no shortage of banter and thick skin is definitely required.