Joining Melbourne’s sporting festival in the early months of the year is just one idea Aussie icon Ian Baker-Finch has put forward as the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia begins to plot a revamped summer schedule.
Speaking on RSN’s Breakfast Club on Thursday morning, Baker-Finch fully endorsed the return to a wrap-around schedule starting this year, a move that was announced by the PGA of Australia last Sunday.
That announcement also locked in the Australian PGA Championship to be played at Royal Queensland Golf Club from December 3-6 and Baker-Finch, a PGA of Australia board member, is excited by the opportunities on offer in the post-Christmas half of the season.
Given Melbourne’s history of hosting some of Australia’s biggest tournaments during the halcyon days on the 1980s and 1990s and the and the influx of tourists attending the Australian Open tennis and F1 Grand Prix each year, Baker-Finch believes the rebirth of two old favourites would reinvigorate the Aussie summer.
“I like the fact that maybe we can have a couple of tournaments in Melbourne around the Australian Open tennis,” said Baker-Finch, who won the 1985 Victorian Open at Yarra Yarra Golf Club and the 1988 Australian Masters at Huntingdale and is a PGA of Australia board member.
“Really utilise our great weather in Australia – and especially Melbourne – in that January-February time.
“I would really love to see a return of the Australian Masters. We’re also looking at a potential Australian Players Championship, another event that we used to have.
“The Vic Open is a sensational new tournament where we have the best women players in the world alongside the best men down there at Thirteenth Beach.
“I definitely think there’s room for more events and more events including the women. There are lots of opportunities for sure.
“There’s a terminology that they use called the wrap-around season which means it doesn’t necessarily run across a calendar year.
“That’s what they do in the US and we used to do that in Australia. We used to finish our tournaments in late February, early March before everyone ventured off to the northern hemisphere to play through their summer and we’re going to do that again.
“We’re going to set up the Australian tour to finish in March which I think is a great idea. We’ve got plenty of time to run tournaments in January-February-March in our great weather.
“This (the coronavirus pandemic) really was the impetus in doing that because we’re not sure whether we’ll be able to play any golf as we know it until later in the year and maybe not even until 2021.”
With the Australian PGA locked in for the first weekend of December and the US Masters to conclude on November 15, Baker-Finch expects the Australian Open to follow the week after PGA if not early in the new year.
“We’re hoping the final quarter of the year will return to normal – not just for golf, but for all of us,” Baker-Finch said on RSN.
“We’re going to play the Australian PGA at Royal Queensland Golf Club in Brisbane in the first week of December. I would imagine that the Australian Open would go the week following that if we are able to play golf with a crowd.
“If we can’t, the Australian Open may even go later and go into February next year.”