'Harare Open seeks European Tour sanctioning'

HARARE - Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has plans for the Harare Open Golf Tournament to join the lucrative European Tour schedule.

The prestigious golf tournament, set for Chapman Golf Club on August 9 and 10, had been absent from the local circuit for the past three years but was re-launched in the capital on Tuesday with a prize fund of $20 000.

The European Tour is the primary golf tour in Europe but since 2015, a majority of the ranking events on the circuit have been held outside Europe.

Manyenyeni said Harare was determined to follow in the footsteps of South African cities Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni whose golf tournaments are part of the money-spinning European Tour.

“The Joburg Open, The Tshwane Open and the South Africa Open are projects of three metropolitan municipalities in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

“These three tournaments are actually European tournaments attracting the world's best golfers. This Harare Open will do the same in the near future,” said the Harare mayor, adding that the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers' Association (ZPGA) and the Harare City Council should learn from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

“I am recommending that the city leadership and the ZPGA management invest a small budget for look-and-learn opportunities with the (South African) municipalities who run these highly successful global tournaments, next door.

“I invite the organisers of the various golfing tournaments and City of Harare to urgently tabulate a programme and strategy to achieve this dream.”

To get co-sanctioning from the European Tour, the Harare Open needs to secure a certain degree of prize fund and meet a number of stringent conditions.

For example, the Joburg Open prize fund stands at R16,5 million which is shared by a field of 240 golfers.  

Manyenyeni, who has in the past attacked the big budget allocated to Harare City Football Club from the capital city’s coffers, insisted that service delivery in key areas should remain Harare’s priority.

“Given our low revenue collection and versus very high demands for service delivery in key areas, I have made enough noises about our embarrassingly skewed sports budgets,” Manyenyeni said.

“That call remains valid against the expectations that a city must be a city - and definitely sports and the arts are part of any modern city.

“What we need are sober budgets, budgets which we can defend to our residents, our ratepayers and other stakeholders.”

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