As well as providing a platform to aspiring professional golfers around the world to hone and improve their talents, the Challenge Tour also helps to develop the game globally, often in countries that are not necessarily known for the sport.
Places like Kazakhstan, which enters its tenth year in 2014, alongside the likes of Ukraine, Czech Republic and Austria this week, have all benefitted from the presence of the sport’s next generation.
This week marks the sixth edition of the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda, and Provincial Governor of Carinthia, Dr Peter Kaiser, was in attendance on Saturday eulogising the benefits that this tournament has had to golf within the host region, and across Austria.
He describes this event as one of the area’s greatest success stories within sport, and hopes it will act as inspiration for not only his country’s next generation of players, but also to tourists who will come here as a result, in order to sample everything Carinthia and the borders has to offer.
“This is one of the most beautiful and successful events we have in the sporting sector,” said Dr Kaiser. “I am responsible in the Government of Carinthia for this kind of event, to help sport work together with tourism, and golf is one of the best sports we have for this.
“This tournament brings a lot of people to the country, and during the last six years, we have hosted over 1000 golfers, which makes this a real success story for the region.
“Tourism in Carinthia is growing, both here and across our borders, thanks in part to an offer we have in the area that has 20 courses in the Alpes-Adria region. There are ten here in Carinthia, as well as six in Venezia and another four in Slovenia. So here golf offers people a triangle of three different types of cultures, different kinds of landscapes, and in a wonderful area too.
“Golf is definitely growing here in Austria, and tournaments like this, in cooperation with the European Challenge Tour, helps very much with this improvement. The running of this tournament, and the success of the likes of Austria’s HP Bacher so far this week, emphasise the sport to a lot of younger golfers and I’m sure it will contribute to the development of golf in this country.
It is clear to see the benefits that a tournament like this can have on an area, which is not necessarily known as being synonymous with golf. The past six years here in Austria have certainly shown, though, that the Challenge Tour can have a very positive influence on an area.
As for Dr Kaiser, while he loves the effect this tournament has had in Carinthia, he has not quite put aside his running shoes for a set of golf spikes just yet.
He said: “I’m a runner myself, and an Ironman. Perhaps later on in life I will move into golf too!”