Aussie golfers want summer plans known

Local golfers are still waiting on a decision to be made on this year's Australian Open.
Local golfers are still waiting on a decision to be made on this year's Australian Open.

Australia's concerned golfers are seeking answers amid fears officials are set to cancel the summer's four flagship tournaments for the second year running.

Golf Australia this week announced it would make "a call in the near future" on the prospect of the Australian Open proceeding as planned in Sydney in November as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the country.

The summer's first scheduled event, the Northern Territory PGA Championship, has already been postponed from August 19-22 to September 16-19 because of Australia's border closures and travel restrictions imposed on players from NSW, Victoria and south-east Queensland.

The uncertainty has created angst among the playing ranks, with the Australian PGA Championship, scheduled for Royal Queensland in Brisbane from December 2-5, the women's Australian Open in Adelaide in February and the lucrative Victorian Open, which is co-sanctioned with the LPGA and men's European Tour, also potentially under the gun.

The cancellation of the major events last year took a major toll on players, with many relying on JobKeeper to ride out the storm and others forced to quit the sport altogether.

In 2020, the crisis led to Tournament Players' Council representative Dimi Papadatos, the 2018 Australian Open runner-up, urging Golf Australia boss James Sutherland and PGA Tour chief Gavin Kirkman to reveal their big-picture plan to restore the major tournaments this year.

"Obviously things are difficult and things can change, but you still probably should have one just to know what's going on and give some sort of reassurance to the guys that we can play," Papadatos told AAP in December.

"Because unfortunately you're going to see a lot of guys that throw it in."

Eight months on and frustrated players say they remain in the dark, having not been consulted by officials.

With livelihoods at stake, Papadatos hoped officials would think outside the square before abandoning tournaments and said most battlers would welcome a cut-price Australian Open - and other events - with reduced prize money so they at least had something to strive for.

Bryden Macpherson, the president of the Oceania Golf Players' Association, said the group - of which women's major winner Hannah Green is a player director - was newly-formed to give touring pros a voice "because of our deep concern for the game and its long-term financial viability".

"The OGPA and its members stand ready to help the PGATA and WPGA," Macpherson said in a statement to AAP.

"However, the Tour's published refusal to recognise the Players' Association and their rejection of the transparency that would provide us access to the information necessary to make informed decisions means we find ourselves waiting to see what happens alongside the public in general.

"We'd like to be hopeful this will get resolved because our livelihoods depend on it.

"But we recognise that 'hope' isn't a strategy. Until the Tour embraces all the stakeholders and recognises that the only way to long-term success is through a wide, collaborative effort, we will continue to put the pieces in place for when they are compelled to recognise the views of the players."

Australian Associated Press