09 Feb 2022 | Clubs & Facilities |
13th Beach wants more of its Vic Open love affair
by Martin Blake
The 13th Beach Golf Links management wants the Vic Open to remain on the Bellarine Peninsula for the longer term.
Club general manager Craig Skimming said today that initial talks had begun last year with Golf Australia to extend the venue’s hosting rights beyond 2023, when the current five-year agreement finishes.
The 2022 edition of the Vic Open is the ninth at the venue since 2013, which has seen the event grow exponentially, go into a Covid-enforced hiatus in 2021, then return this year.
Its mixed-gender format, initiated in 2012, has won worldwide acclaim in the golfing industry. The fact there are two courses – the Beach and the Creek – makes it ideal for running what are effectively two separate tournaments rolled into one.
“We’ve started conversations with (Golf Australia Chief Executive) James Sutherland on that last year,” said Skimming today. “To be fair, I think the desire was just to get this up and running. Now that we’re here and this is reality, with Covid we feel like we’re heading out the other side, we think there can be some more certainty and our intent is to push it along.”
Golf Australia's General Manager Events and Operations, Therese Magdulski, said: "We’ll be working through this with the club down the track. We know that they’re keen to host again and they have been a big part of the event for nearly a decade so we’ll be factoring all that in along with Golf Australia’s considerations and requirements when we talk.”
Skimming said the pandemic had led to uncertainty last year about whether the 2022 tournament could go ahead, but the year off firmed up 13th Beach’s view that it needs the Vic Open.
With DP World Tour and LPGA Tour co-sanctioning in 2020, the event was telecast throughout the world and the benefits for the club cannot be underestimated. One group arrived at 13th Beach not so long ago and announced to staff that they wanted to walk out and see the brilliant par-three 7th hole on the Beach course, purely because they had seen it on television.
“The absence from last year, it’s been two years and it feels like it’s been a long time coming,” said Skimming. “The excitement’s there. Everyone’s delighted to have it up and running again. “I guess there was a lot of uncertainty, really. It’s an indication of how important the event is to 13th Beach. We were very keen to get it up again and play our part and make sure it runs well. It’s slightly different this week, which is to be expected, but it’s going to be a great week. The members are behind it, there are lots of billets and caddies.
“We’ve had in excess of 300 volunteers in the past from 13th. We have a lot of people who do things that aren’t even part of the official volunteering, people who help out with billets. They give up their home for the week.”
“Our intent and our desire is to extend. We’re happy with the event, we want to keep it, we want to grow it back, not necessarily to what it was, but we’ve seen the benefits. The community like it, and that’s the reality of it.”
The 13th Beach Golf Links has about 1350 members and also works off a public golf model with stay-and-play options.
“We’re still a growing club,” said Skimming. “We’re not at our peak. We’re not finished yet. There’s scope to increase membership, and this helps.”
Visit the dedicated tournament website vicopengolf.com
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