Sport

Kiss it goodbye: PGA is officially leaving Coolum

THE PGA will not return to the Sunshine Coast next year, organisers say.

PGA chief executive Brian Thorburn revealed early this afternoon that there had been ongoing discussions with current hosts Palmer Coolum Resort for months and an agreement couldn't be reached.

He cited "commerce" as the main reason.

Mr Thorburn said there remained the possibility of hosting a T2 tournament. 

He wouldn't discuss the "highs and lows" of the past few days, with this year's tournament in jeopardy on Sunday.  

However, he mentioned "signage" became an unexpected issue with billionaire Clive Palmer painting about  "60 signs" on the grass across the course. PGA officials have had to introduce a new local law to accommodate the colourful signage, including one of a large American flag, when they occur in "landing zones".

Palmer's mammoth dinosaur also became a sore point for golfing officials. The life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex engulfs the area in front of the resort.

But it's not so much its nine-metre size that was the problem.  It's that the thing moves… and makes dinosaur noises.

Australian Open champion Peter Senior said he didn't see a problem with the signs or the dinosaur.

"It (the dinosaur) doesn't worry me as long as it doesn't crap everywhere,"  Senior said.

Mr Thorburn said he wouldn't totally rule out the PGA returning to the Sunshine Coast, but finding a suitable venue would be a challenge.

He said organisers ruled out any other venue Sunshine Coast as suitable for next year's event.

Call for Clive to look at effect of PGA loss on local business

A COOLUM business leader has invited Clive Palmer to come and see what the PGA means to the bustling seaside town.

Noel Mooney, head of Coolum Business and Tourism, says if Mr Palmer did this, he might have tried harder to keep the multi-million dollar event at his Palmer Resort.

"It shows he doesn't really care about the Sunshine Coast, the way he is carrying on," Mr Mooney said.

"We're here to help him and help his resort - but we can't understand what he is doing. The PGA is in its 11th year at Coolum. It's involved a lot of good work to get it to what it is.

"For the golfers, it's their last tournament and many stay an extra week and bring their family. They love coming to Coolum.

"I wish he (Mr Palmer) would come down and see what we are doing (in Coolum). The (PGA) is the best publicity you can get. It goes worldwide and the resort is renowned for it."

PGA chief executive Brian Thorburn said early yesterday this week's event was likely to be the last on the Sunshine Coast.

Former Olympic boxer and former head of Maroochy Business in Tourism, Benny Pike also says the loss of the PGA is an "absolute tragedy".

"Its publicity you just can't buy," he said.

But the Sunshine Coast civic leaders - its tourism head, Mayor and the state's Sports Minister - were generally "too busy" to provide detailed comments.

Sunshine Coast Destination CEO Steve Cooper was in "back-to-back meetings" and wasn't available.

Sports Minister and Member for Kawana Steve Dickson's media spokeswoman sent through one line.

"It's very disappointing that the Palmer Coolum Resort has been unable to come to an agreement with the PGA to keep hosting this event," the statement read.

Mayor Mark Jamieson was also brief.

"Council will continue to be a strong advocate for the PGA to stay on the Sunshine Coast, and I'd urge the people of the Sunshine Coast to get behind this year's event - just like they have for the past decade," he said in an email.

Topics:  clive palmer, coolum palmer resort, golf, hyatt, pga


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