Back the Ladies’ English Open at Chart Hills – or risk the event moving away from Kent. That’s the stark message to businesses in and around the south-east of England from David Walls, the director of marketing and sales for the Leaderboard Group, owners of Chart Hills, the Kent golf course which is preparing to stage the event for the third successive year.
Chart Hills has signed up to host the Ladies’ European Tour event until 2010, but Walls admitted the writing could be on the wall for the event at the stunning Biddenden course if major investment wasn’t forthcoming.
“Last year’s tournament went ahead,” he said, “but it was a struggle. Where was the investment? This year we face exactly the same problem and financial headache but we will honour the prestigious date.
“The bottom line is that we will need major investment from companies in the south-east if the event is to stay in Kent beyond 2006.”
Lack of such investment from big companies in and around the south-east could mean the Ladies’ English Open is moved from Chart Hills, meaning Kent loses an event which proved to be the biggest sporting event in the region.
More than 22,000 spectators came through the gates at Chart Hills over the three days last year to witness Sweden’s Maria Hjorth’s successfully defend her title – more than double the attendance in 2004.
“Without the backing of big companies, the Ladies’ English Open simply won’t go ahead at Chart Hills,” warned Walls, who said there was no shortage of big-name companies prepared to lend their support to golf, including Deutschebank, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Walls added, “That financial support, be it as title sponsor, via a presence in the tented village during championship week or as backer of the popular pro-ams, is vitally important and is the lifeblood of future championships if we wish to keep the event in Kent.
“The Ladies’ English Open has been a success story since it first moved to Chart Hills three years ago. It has grown in stature each year – the quality of the entries, the national and local television coverage and the big crowds underlining that – and we fully intend to maximise its potential – but we need help from local businesses.”
Walls added that input from the public sector as well as the private sector was necessary to maintain the tournament as a leading event which would benefit both the community in and around Biddenden as well as across the south-east region.
The record crowds at last year’s renewal of the Ladies’ English Open certainly demonstrated that there is a market for such a prestigious golf competition in the region, making the lack of investment all the more baffling.
Walls said, “The Ladies European Tour recently announced its schedule for the 2006 season and one thing stands out from the packed list of dates – England is the only country in an extensive European list of tournaments which doesn’t have a title sponsor.
“We want to change that and invite big sponsors to come and be a major part of this event and help make the Ladies’ English Open a huge success story at Chart Hills.”
This year’s tournament is due to take place from 3-9 July. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for the 2006 Ladies’ English Open at Chart Hills, or any aspect of the event, please contact David Walls on 01580 292106, or e-mail email@example.com.
Ladies European Tour www.ladieseuropeantour.com
Chart Hills www.charthills.co.uk