Delivering A Spectacle

It might be called the Fijian International and its attracting the world to Fiji but the tournament is very much focused on delivering a fun week for Fijians. Following on
26 Jul 2015 09:47
Delivering A Spectacle
PGA Australian Academy’s Nick Bielawski teaching students how to putt during the Fijian International School and Golf Development Programme at the Pacific Harbour Multi Cultural School last Friday. Photo: Justine Mannan

It might be called the Fijian International and its attracting the world to Fiji but the tournament is very much focused on delivering a fun week for Fijians.

Following on from a successful inaugural tournament, the Fijian International is going to be bigger and better in 2015. And Natalie Ritter, general manager of tournament operations for the PGA of Australia encourages every Fijian to get involved.

“One thing we learned last year and appreciated so much is just how dedicated the Fijian community is to making the event a success,” said Ritter who is in Fiji this week working on the 2015 staging of the tournament.

“We had more than 50 local organisations provide goods and services to the event, and numerous more indirectly related.

“In a very short time frame we managed to build a tournament venue that rivalled any longstanding international event.”

While it’s fabulous to see businesses get involved with the Fijian International, Ritter hopes to see more Fijians come and enjoy a day at the golf.

“This year the entire Fijian community has the opportunity to be involved in the Fijian International in various ways,” she said.

“Whether it is via volunteering at the event, spectating in the general admission area, hosting corporate guests in the hospitality areas or learning the sport itself via free lessons or junior clinics, there is something for everyone at the Fijian International.

“What I really want everyone to know is the Fijian International is not just for good golfers, the size and scope of an internationally broadcast event is a spectacle in itself, so we encourage everyone to become involved,” Ritter said.

“For the general public, we have moved the free lessons and kid’s golf zone to the driving range, providing more space for everyone to try golf. We have also expanded the activities in the main tournament hub, with merchandise shops, food stalls, bars and local crafts on display so even non-golfers will enjoy an afternoon at the Fijian International.”

The Fijian International is an integral component to ensuring Fiji cashes in on the lucrative global golf tourism market but to help achieve that the tournament is aiming to grow the game in the country.

“We know that golf tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide, and as a result an extremely important sport to the Fiji community.

“Increasing the awareness and interest in golf will hopefully have a benefit long term to the community here, and we aim to assist this over coming years,” added Ritter who this week was on hand in Fiji to launch a new junior golf programme.

“In 2015, we have partnered with the international governing body of golf the Royal and Ancient (R&A), National Golf Association of Fiji and the Fiji PGA to deliver junior coaching equipment, education and training to school teachers and PGA Professionals and assistance as required to the  administration bodies here.”

“Already, more than 25 teachers have been trained to teach golf to kids and eight junior golf equipment have been delivered with more on the horizon.

“The schools programme will also continue with ongoing lessons throughout August, October and November.”

While, excitement surrounding the Fijian International is building at home so too is it amongst professional golfers around the world.

“What is fantastic about this year is that we have seen numerous players show interest in the tournament, word has certainly escaped about how magnificent Fiji and Natadola Bay is,” she said.

“With the change in date to October providing longer daylight hours we have been able to increase the field size to 132 players which is a great result for year two of the event.”

To be played at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from 15-18 October, the Fijian International will be broadcast around the world.

The Fijian International is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia and will be played for a minimum prize purse of AU$1 million.

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