'Test in the West' by Jon Underwood for Golf Vacations
Published: May 10, 2012 09:33:03 AM Updated: Mar 27, 2013 11:37:38 AM
Australia's richest golf tournament will be played at the majestic Lake Karrinyup Country Club near Perth in October. Jon Underwood reports.
One of my fondest memories of Lake Karrinyup was driving a golf cart containing the winner of the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic. I was working as a producer for Network Ten at the time and my job was to ferry the champion to the TV studio for an interview with Tim Webster.
I’d heard stories about how laid back South Africa’s Retief Goosen was (often attributed to a lightning strike when he was 15) but expected a skerrick of excitement seeing he’d just won the tournament by eight shots, pocketing 243,000 euros in the process.
He looked like he’d just woken up from an afternoon nap. Lake Karrinyup was a great tournament venue and in October it will once again provide the backdrop for Australia’s richest tournament.
The inaugural Perth International Golf Championship will be played from October 18 to 21 with a prize purse of US$2 million. The winner will take home US$360,000.
The tournament will be cosanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour and promises to attract some of the world’s top players. The event will be broadcast to 350 million homes in more than 65 countries.
The tournament is a joint initiative of Eventscorp and International Management Group (IMG) to bring another major golf event to Perth.
“The PGA Tour of Australasia is delighted to add the Perth International Golf Championship to its 2012 schedule and look forward to welcoming the European Tour and its players back to Australia,” said Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Western Australia Tourism Minister Dr Kim Hames said the tournament would attract some of the world’s best golfers. “Perth has a strong history of hosting successful international golf events, notably the Heineken Classic, Johnnie Walker Classic and the Lexus Cup, and this tournament will well and truly put the city back on the golfing map.”
Lake Karrinyup has an illustrious history. Founded in 1928, the course was designed by Alex Russell, the business partner of legendary golf architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Lake Karrinyup has hosted four Australian Opens – with golfing legends Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus among the winners – but last welcomed the world’s best players in the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic, won by another South African, Ernie Els.
A re-design by Mike Clayton several years ago has made it a more undulating and challenging course while still retaining the natural bush setting that is home to an abundance of native flora and fauna.
General Manager Damon Lonnie believes that while the club will reap only modest financial gains from the upcoming tournament, the worldwide exposure will be priceless.
“For a club such as ours it will once again remind the golfing fraternity of the quality of our course and facilities. It also generates great excitement and pride among our membership and staff,” he told Golf Vacations.
“This will be a significant boost for tourism in WA and hopefully this will flow through to the game of golf in this state. The tournament will bring many golfers from overseas and interstate and I would encourage those clubs that can accommodate golfers to capitalise on this opportunity.
“In the longer term I see it as an opportunity to develop the game further and expose it to a new generation of potential golfers.”
Article courtesy of Golf Vacations magazine.
All pictures by Gary Lisbon.