McNamee Update On Aus Open

Thanks to reader Mark for this Australian story by Louis White that details Paul McNamee's efforts to enhance the Australian Open.

Unfortunately, no mention throughout the piece about moving away from stinker venues like The Grand or The Australian.

McNamee agreed to become the executive chairman of the men's and women's Australian Open tournaments. He got a shock upon taking up the position in April.

"I didn't realise that the financial situation was as bad as it was," he said, sounding surprised still. "There was virtually no revenue streams for the sport and Channel Seven had lost interest. Everyone was receiving freebies to attend the event and the Australian players weren't happy either.

"What blew me away was that the women's championship hadn't even been played for three years. I took that as being not a good sign."

A federal government report into the state of Australian golf had resulted in the amalgamation of the Australian Golf Union and the Australian Ladies Golf Union to form Golf Australia. The new entity was entrusted with overseeing the men's and women's Australian Open championships.

McNamee took a pay cut, and his job was on a part-time basis. Before accepting the job he headed to the US to get a grip on staging a successful tournament. He spoke first-hand to the Australian players to find out their concerns about the Australian Open - all at his own expense.

"The players weren't happy and had a long list of complaints," McNamee said. "It ranged from no functions for the wives and girlfriends to no creche, to no food for the caddies and even the pro-am taking too long.

"Most importantly though, they did want to come back to Australia and play golf. They all understand the importance of the Australian Tour and want to support the Australian Open."

Not only did McNamee convince the players that things would be different this year - he personally spoke to 12 of the top 13-ranked Australian players - he knew he had to overcome the negative publicity associated with the event and do things differently.

"I decided to focus on showcasing Australian players because we are the No.2 golfing nation in the world at the moment," he said.

"Australia has 10 players ranked in the top 100 in the world and had 24 players in the British Open this year. I honestly believe that these group of golfers are the best group of players in the history of Australian golf."

And let's put them on a course to match?