A glamorous Bollywood siren, a major premium whisky brand and an international golfing initiative came together in India last week, when details were revealed of India’s largest-ever golf event.
And the record-breaking announcement, which comes hard on the heels of recent PowerPlay Golf® launch events in New Zealand and Canada, signals another step in the global expansion of golf’s new ‘two flag’ format.
Indian model and actress Neha Dhupia joined PowerPlay Golf co-creator Peter McEvoy OBE at the media launch of the Signature Club Golf Championship 2009 in Mumbai, India, on 16 September, along with representatives from United Spirits and event organisers Professional Management Group (PMG).
PMG – India’s first sports marketing company, started in 1985 by cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar – will manage the event, which is now in its 8th year. It is India’s biggest amateur golf tournament.
The event, which covered 20 cities in 2008, will expand in 2009 to cover 30 cities across India, and will be played to PowerPlay Golf rules throughout. It features three stages: Intra-Club matches, four Regional Finals, and the All-India Finals. Qualifying events will take place at 43 Indian golf clubs between September and December 2009, with the Championship reaching a climax in Phuket, Thailand, from 12th-15th December, when the All-India Finals will be played to decide India’s Champion Golf Club.
Under the theme ‘The Bold and The Beautiful’, the Signature Club Golf Championship 2009, with Associate Sponsors Kingfisher Airlines, will feature the rapidly-expanding PowerPlay Golf nine-hole risk and reward golfing format (‘The Bold’), along with a series of fashion shows (‘The Beautiful’) where leading designers will showcase their collections at ‘Signature Fashion Nights’ after the four Regional Finals in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata.
Neha Dhupia, a screen siren with a career spanning 27 Bollywood films, is a former Miss India and one of the nation’s most popular celebrities. The 29-year old has signed on as Brand Ambassador for the event to represent ‘Millionaire Brand’ Signature Rare Whisky, one of the leading drinks brands from the United Spirits stable.
“We are delighted to be working with United Spirits and PMG to launch this ground-breaking event for golf in India,” said McEvoy, Director of Golf at PowerPlay Golf and Tournament Director for the Signature event. “Many have seen the connection between what we are doing with PowerPlay Golf, and with the tremendous success of Twenty20 Cricket, which of course has become a huge attraction in India. We hope that our short format of the game will create similar enthusiasm among India’s 400,000 golfers.
“Like T20, PowerPlay Golf is designed to be as TV-friendly as possible, but we also have a strong mass-participation element, enabling golfers and golf club operators to play the game themselves, adding the excitement of a round of PowerPlay Golf to their regular golfing diet. I believe that the Signature Club Golf Championship’s decision to switch to the PowerPlay Golf format will play a positive role in the growth of grass-roots golf throughout India and indeed the rest of Asia.”
Debashish Shyam, Business Head, United Spirits Ltd, said: “Signature Club Golf Championship in its PowerPlay Golf avatar presents the ultimate combination of gripping golf action and fashion fiesta. Signature has once again upped the ante in the country’s most sought-after amateur golf event.”
Melroy D’Souza, Chief Operating Officer at PMG, pointed out that the tournament would allow the brand to directly engage more than 6,500 competitors from across India. He added: “Through the tournament and activities surrounding it, we intend to create awareness among over 400,000 golfers across the country at the various clubs which will be represented at the tournament. These include professional golfers as well as celebrities and heads of many of India’s largest corporations.”
The announcement follows other successful PowerPlay Golf launch events this year in New Zealand, Bahrain and Canada, as more and more golfing nations take up the two-flag game at club level. India becomes the 24th nation to take up PowerPlay Golf, which made its debut in London in February 2007. So far in 2009, PowerPlay Golf Official Venues have also opened up for the first time in Cyprus, Slovakia, Poland, Netherlands and Kuwait, joining powerhouse golfing nations such as the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom as early adopters of PowerPlay Golf.