REVEALED: Why Coast lost PGA golf champs
RACV Royal Pines had a contract to host the country's premier golf tournament in 2020 but took too long to sign it, claim sources - but RACV counter-claims it was pleading to keep it on the Gold Coast.
The real story behind how the Gold Coast lost the Australian PGA Championship to Brisbane for the next three years is starting to emerge as a blame game begins between RACV, golf industry insiders, State Government and the PGA of Australia.
The Gold Coast hosted the event which attracted top pros like Adam Scott for seven years but it is now gone and some say unlikely to return.
Sources have told the Bulletin Royal Pines had a contract to host the 2020 competition but failed to sign it quick enough: "They had a contract in front, for another year, they took too long to get back to the PGA on it and the PGA had to go looking elsewhere.
Another golf community source said: "The PGA would have loved to have had it again on the Gold Coast. There was a contract, but the host venue didn't sign it in time.
"They dropped the ball."
Asked about claims RACV Royal Pines had a contract, an RACV spokesperson yesterday said in a statement: "RACV formally wrote to the PGA on no less than three separate occasions seeking to proceed with the final year of the three-year agreement it had struck with the PGA.
"The PGA, however, determined this final year of the agreement was to be by mutual agreement, and the PGA did not agree to proceed.
"We have had a very close working relationship with the Australian PGA since Royal Pines first hosted the championships in 2013.
"RACV has invested millions of dollars in the Royal Pines course to ensure it is a world-class facility for both professional and amateur golfers alike with the intention that it would be home to the Australian PGA Championships for many years to come.
"We reiterate our disappointment over the situation."
But an insider close to the deal told the Bulletin it was unlikely the tournament would return to the Gold Coast "because RACV doesn't want it".
"Royal Pines totally sold out Gold Coast golf fans," they claimed. "This was negotiated for months and Royal Pines told the PGA that they don't want the event anymore because it doesn't make them any money.
"PGA had Royal Queensland, and because it was the 100th year it was an obvious choice to move it up there. But the real reason why this has happened is Royal Pines don't want the event," they claimed.
"It's sad for the Gold Coast but at the end of the day no one can do anything about it because Royal Pines said, point blank, 'it costs us too much to run and we don't make any money out of it'.
"What hasn't been reported before is it's likely never to return to the Gold Coast, because Royal Pines have told them they don't want it."
Tourism and Events Queensland's Acting CEO Nick Elliott said the decision to relocate was not made by it.
"I understand the decision to relocate was made by the PGA in consultation with the host," he said. "Tourism and Events Queensland supports events that drive visitors to the state and support the economy. We work with those events to maximise outcomes for communities and economy."
A PGA spokesman said it would not comment on why it started looking outside the Gold Coast to host the event or if it was still interested in keeping it on the Gold Coast in 2020.
"The PGA decided to move the event to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Queensland Golf Club. The PGA and RACV continue to have an ongoing broader partnership and RACV remain an important partner."
City officials haven't confirmed whether or not the Gold Coast will make a bid for the PGA event's return once its Brisbane contract expires in 2023.