ISPS Handa New Zealand Open – Queenstown, New Zealand

The New Zealand Golf Open was held on two of New Zealand’s most spectacular courses, Millbrook Resort and The Hills, between the 1st and 4th March. The tournament is sponsored by ISPS Handa.

International Sports Promotion Society (known as ISPS or as ISPS Handa) is a corporation designed to carry out activities contributing to social welfare and international co-operation through the promotion of sports and sports values. Founder Dr Haruhisa Handa is known as ‘The Father of Blind Golf in Japan’ due to the leading role he played in introducing the game of blind golf to the country.

ISPS Handa has a long history of supporting golf events around the globe, sponsoring tournaments on almost every major golf tour including the European Tour, PGA Tour, European Senior Tour, Asian Tour, Legends Tour, LPGA, Ladies European Tour, Japan PGA, Sunshine Tour, Golf Australia and the Australasian PGA. ISPS Handa has expanded to advocate for the recognition of differently-abled golfers, such as wounded veterans, in addition to blind golf. ISPS Handa offers training academies and inclusion opportunities in co-operation with some of golf’s most prestigious events.

ISPS Handa is a strong advocate for the ‘power of sport’ and its ability to create hope, to inspire people, and transform society. It is this conviction that has been the backbone of ISPS ‘s dedication to providing opportunities for blind and disabled golfers worldwide, with the long-term aim of enabling golf to become a Paralympic sport.

The ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a Tier One event co-sanctioned by the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.

The tournament will include a minimum field of 140 amateurs and 140 professionals playing alongside one another.  The professional golfers will compete for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open title whilst simultaneously a pairing of one professional and one amateur will play a best-ball format for the New Zealand Pro-Am Championship.

The field will be split across The Hills and Millbrook Resort for the first round of competition with all players alternating to the other course for the second round.

After the second round the top 60 + ties professionals will continue to the final two rounds of the tournament to be played at Millbrook Resort.

For the Pro-Am teams, the top 40 pairings will progress to compete in round three at Millbrook Resort, before a third round cut will see the top 10 Pro-Am teams progress to the final round at Millbrook Resort.

The tournament is unique in the Asia Pacific region with the Pro-Am format allowing amateurs to play inside the ropes during the heat of competition.

The tournament was a great success enjoyed by the players and spectators alike. Nick did well in his first NZ Open as a professional finishing as the top NZ player in a tie for 7th on 20 under par with rounds of 66, 68, 65 and 66. The winner was Daniel Nisbet from Australia who finished on 27 under par.

In Nick’s own words …

The New Zealand Open was a special tournament – it was my first time competing in our national open. To make it even more special I was paired with a superstar of our game – KJ Choi. My family came down from Auckland to watch and it was played in one of the most beautiful places on the planet! It was a specatuclar week and I played some very solid golf – I was finding fairways, throwing darts with my irons and holing some good putts. It was a whole lot of fun out there.

It is a tradition at the NZ Open that the players are recognized by the audience as they walk onto the 18th green – the two American’s I was playing with went first and were announced with some claps and whistles from the crowd. As I approached the green, Terry (the announcer) turned it up a notch and yelled out “AND FROM NEW ZEALAND” and the crowd started going nuts! I took off my hat after hearing my name and looked around at the people surrounding the putting green – everyone was on their feet as they welcomed and congratulated me on my week. It was a special feeling and sent shivers down my spine. Luckily, I kept my composure and 2 putted from about 40 feet to make my par 😅.

I’ve had the past week off training and am eager to get back into it. I head to Arizona on the 26th of March for the Canadian Q-school. My plan is to get playing status on the MacKenzie Tour in Canada and have a good season. This could open up some opportunities on the Tour which is where I want to be.

The support following the NZ Open has been incredible – the messages, calls and comments online have been awesome. It is great knowing that so many people are behind me and genuinely want to see me succeed. I plan on doing just that 💪🏻😊.

The attached links detail NZ Golf’s coverage of the tournament:

Kiwi Kids to Feature at NZ Open – 28 February 2018

Bateman leads Kiwi contingent in low scoring affair – 1 March 2018

Hillier & Wilkinson impress as Australians dominate – 2 March 2018

Round of a lifetime gives Daniel Hillier a chance at NZ Open – 3 March 2018

Scintillating final round earns Daniel Nisbet New Zealand Open Title – 4 March 2018

Millbrook Resort

Designed by renowned professional and master golfer Sir Bob Charles, and renovated by Greg Turner in October 2010, this 27 hole championship course offers three different 18 hole combinations. Set on 500 acres, Millbrook’s course is best described as a mix between the world-class immaculately manicured “Parklands” courses and “Links” courses, offering a variety of natural hazards and stunning scenery.

Set in a natural alpine amphitheatre against the backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain Range, the golf course at Millbrook exploits the dramatic terrain fully, delivering world-class golf. Played across the Arrow and Coronet nines, competitors in theNew Zealand Open will face a stern test of strategy, skill and composure.

The Hills

The Hills was designed by Darby Partners and opened in 2007 to host the New Zealand Open. Set over 500 acres of land across a glacial valley the layout highlights the dramatic elevation changes and rocky schist outcrops that are a feature of the area. The course is owned by New Zealander Sir Michael Hill, founder of Michael Hill Jewellers.

A keen sponsor of the arts, Sir Michael believes we are only limited by the extent of our imagination. Sir Michael has created this contemporary sculpture park to house a diverse range of works. Pieces to date are mainly Australasian, but ‘The Wolves are Coming’, a major work from China is the start of expanding the collection internationally.

History of the New Zealand Open

The New Zealand Amateur Championship had been played since 1893 and at the 1906 championship meeting in Christchurch it was decided to hold a 36-hole Open Championship at the championship meeting in 1907, “open to any professional or amateur in any part of the world” with prizes of £25 and £10 for the leading professionals. The 1907 championship meeting was held at Napier Golf Club. The first round of the Open was played on the morning of 10 September, the amateurs also competing in a club team event. The professional David Hood and amateur J. Carne Bidwell led with rounds of 80. A handicap event was held on the following day and the second round of the Open was played on the morning of 12 September. The amateur Arthur Duncan had a second round of 76 to win with a score of 159, seven ahead of J. Carne Bidwell. The Scottish professional, Jack McLaren, finished third on 167 with David Hood fourth on 168. McLaren and Hood took the cash prizes of £25 and £10.

In 1908 the tournament was extended to 72 holes, and was won by Joe Clements, the first notable New Zealand-born professional golfer. There were no Opens from 1915 to 1918 due to World War I and the championship was again cancelled from 1940 to 1945 due to World War II. The Jellicoe Cup was presented by Viscount Jellicoe, the second Governor-General of New Zealand, in 1924 and is awarded for the lowest round in the championship. The Bledisloe Cup was presented by Lord Bledisloe, the fourth Governor-General, in 1934 and is awarded to the leading amateur.

In 1954 Bob Charles, who was later to become the only New Zealander to win a major championship in the 20th century, won as an 18-year-old amateur. He won again in 1966, 1971 and 1973, as a professional, and he and the two Australian major champions Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle dominated the event from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s. Other well known winners have included the American Corey Pavin in 1984 and 1985, and Michael Campbell in 2000. Campbell joined Charles as a major champion when he won the 2005 U.S. Open.

In 2002 Tiger Woods took part as a thank you to his New Zealand caddieSteve Williams, but he did not win. His participation caused some controversy when ticket prices were raised sharply that year.

The New Zealand Open is a PGA Tour of Australasia tournament, and in 2005 was co-sanctioned for the first time by the European Tour, which led to a doubling of the prize fund to 1.5 million New Zealand Dollars. The European Tour had co-sanctioned PGA Tour of Australasia events before, but they had all been in Australia, making this the tour’s first ever visit to New Zealand. In 2006 the event was moved to November, taking its place on the European Tour schedule for the following calendar year. The 2007 event was the last to be co-sanctioned by the European Tour, and with the tournament being rescheduled to March, there was also no New Zealand Open on the 2008 Australasian Tour. The 2009 and 2010 tournaments were also co-sanctioned by the Nationwide Tour, the official development tour of the PGA Tour. Since 2011 it has been solely sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Since 2014 the Championship has been a pro-am event. A professional field of about 140 play with an amateur partner for the first two rounds, alternately at The Hills and Millbrook Resort before the second round cut of 60 and ties. From 2014 and 2016 the final two rounds of the championship were played at The Hills but in 2017 they will be played at Millbrook Resort. The New Zealand Pro-Am Championship runs alongside to the main tournament in a best-ball format. After a second round cut the top 40 pro-am pairs progress to round three at The Hills, with a further cut to the top 10 pairs who play in the final round.


There had been competition golf played since 1893, but in the inaugural New Zealand Open at Napier Golf Club a record 130 players participated. The field included 123 amateurs and seven professionals and was dominated by amateur legend A.D.S.(Arthur) Duncan who became the first New Zealand Open Champion.


J.A.Clements from Wanganui was only 19 years old when he became the first New Zealand born professional to win. He went on to become prominent in the games development. He went on to win again in 1909 & 1912.


A.D.S.Duncan dominates at Christchurch’s Shirley course winning with a total of 295, a tournament record that would stand for 20 years. Duncan won again in 1911 at Belmont in Wanganui.


E.S. Douglas, a newcomer from Scotland won his first NZ Open in bitter conditions at Balmacewen. He went on to defend in 1914 at Auckland’s Middlemore course, then after the NZ Open was not played during the war years returned to make it three in a row in 1919. That event was back at Napier Golf Club. Douglas would win for the last time in 1921.


J.H.Kirkwood becomes the first Australian to win, being the only player to record all four rounds in the 70’s.


The Jellicoe Cup for the lowest individual round was presented by Earl Jellicoe of Scapa. The inaugural winner was A.D.S.Duncan with a score of 71. Duncan finished runner up to E.J. (Ernie) Moss in an event played at Middlemore. Moss would win again in 1927 & 1933.


Andy Shaw won the first of his seven New Zealand Open Championships. At Miramar in this year he beat E.J. Moss in an 18 hole play-off. Shaw went on to win four in a row, 1929-1932, 1934 and 1936. Shaw was truly a legend of the game in this era.

1930 Shaw’s winning score of 284 was a new record and bettered only once in the next 20 years.


The Bledisloe Cup for leading amateur at the New Zealand Open was presented by Viscount Bledisloe with the inaugural winner Brian Silk.


Scottish professional Alex Murray, having won in 1935, was sensationally disqualified after returning the best four round total. He had practiced his putting on the fringe of a green on the 8th green in the final round. Amateur J.P.Hornabrook went on to win in a three way play off. He would win again in 1939. Murray would bounce back to win in 1948 & 1952.


South African legend Bobby Locke wins at Balmacewen.


After returning from the war Bob Glading won back to back New Zealand Open Championships.


Peter Thomson wins the first of his nine New Zealand Open Championships.


18 year old amateur sensation Bob Charles stares down two of the best players in the world, Peter Thomson and Bruce Crampton to with the first of his four titles.


Australian Harry Berwick becomes the last amateur to win the New Zealand Open when beating Bob Charles and Stuart Jones by two strokes at Shirley.


Kel Nagle wins the first of his seven New Zealand Open Championships, in an era dominated by Australians, particularly Thomson.


One of the games greats Gary Player finishes 3rd behind Nagle and Thomson.


The New Zealand Open Championship becomes a stand-alone event and no longer played beside the Amateur Championship.


Bob Charles wins his first New Zealand Open as a professional. Played at Paraparaumu Beach and a strong field including England’s Tony Jacklin, Charles won by a record 13 strokes which still stands today.


Simon Owen wins his only New Zealand Open Championship at Heretaunga.


The legendary Payne Stewart traveled down under playing in the New Zealand Open. Stewart went on to win three majors before his tragic death in 1999.


Ian Baker-Finch wins his first national Open Championship, later going on to win the 1991 British Open.


Another future major winner plays in the New Zealand Open. Corey Pavin won at Paraparaumu and returned the next year to successfully defend his title at Russley.


Australian Rodger Davis sets the scoring record when winning his first of two New Zealand Opens at the Grange. He won by eight shots scoring 67, 62, 65 and 68. A young Jose-Maria Olazabal finished 7th. Davis won again in 1991.


It took a seven hole play-off before Irishman Ronan Rafferty beat American Larry Nelson. Later that year Nelson won his third major championship, the US PGA.


Greg Turner wins his first New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu by six shots. He again won in 1997 at Auckland Golf Club.


Grant Waite wins his only New Zealand Open and along the way making an albatross two on the par 5 18th at Paraparaumu.


The challenge with scheduling dates on the Australasian Tour mean an unusual year when two New Zealand Open Championships are played. Lucas Parsons won at Heretaunga in January and later in December Peter O’Malley was victorious at The Grange.


Michael Long completes his incredible haul of national titles adding the New Zealand Open to his Amateur (1990), Junior (1988) and Boys (1985) titles.


An emotional win for kiwi Matthew Lane at the new Formosa course in Auckland.


Michael Campbelll shoots 64 in the final round to tie compatriot Craig Perks before winning with an eagle on the 2nd play-off hole.


David Smail wins his only New Zealand Open Championship.


World number one Tiger Woods plays the New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu but the event is affected by a terrorist threat. Woods finished in a tie for 5th. Australian Craig Parry won the title claiming it to be the most important win of his career at the time.


Mahal Pearce produces four sub-par rounds to win the 86th Open Championship.


Amateur Brad Heaven nearly becomes the first amateur in 47 years to win the New Zealand Open, falling one shot short to eventual champion Terry Price.


The New Zealand Open co-sanctions with the European Tour improving the quality of the field. Niclas Fasth wins in a play-off at Gulf Harbour.


The New Zealand Open moves to The Hills for the next three years. This is the final year of the European co-sanction, but is replaced for the next two by the USPGA secondary tour (Nationwide) co-sanctioning. Bob Charles becomes the oldest player to make the cut in an official European Tour event, aged 71.


Despite the February 2011 earthquake which killed 185 people, New Zealand Golf retain Clearwater as the venue. Brad Kennedy wins in a play off from 2002 champion Craig Parry, while kiwi Josh Geary finished 3rd.


The NZ Open returns to Queenstown with the Hills and Millbrook co-hosting the tournament. The National Championship introduces a new innovative pro-am format where amateurs and celebrities play alongside the pros.


Jordan Zunic, only six weeks after turning professional, wins his maiden PGA Tour of Australasia title with an incredible -21 score


Australian Matt Griffin narrowly holds off Hideto Tanihara to win the Brodie Breeze Cup. Followed by Mike Hendry, Shunsuke Sonoda and Yoshi Fujimoto with all of the top five playing on the Japan Tour.


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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