The New Zealand Open is always one of the highlights of my
season, and I was proud to win it in 2000, but I won't play next
January unless the outrageous ticket prices are reduced. This
year patrons paid $21 for a weekly pass. For next year organizers
have jacked up the cost to $205 to help recoup the $2.25 million
appearance fee they're paying Tiger Woods.
I'm not attacking Tiger or his fee. He and I are very good
friends, and we have often played together. What's more, I'd love
to beat Tiger in my backyard. I'm upset about the exorbitant cost
of the tickets, which would make the New Zealand Open one of the
world's most expensive events and keep most people from
attending. That's why I was stunned when Steve Wilkins, the
tournament director, recently told me that plenty of New
Zealanders are perfectly willing to pay $205 a ticket. Whom is he
talking about? Many of my friends wouldn't be able to afford that
steep a price.
What really bothers me is the organizers' blatant disregard for
youngsters. The event has always been free to kids 16 and under.
Now even they will be charged $205. I sponsor a junior golf
program in New Zealand and would never dream of asking those kids
to pay more than $20 for a ticket out of their hard-earned
As one of New Zealand's leading golfers, I feel I must stand up
on behalf of my countrymen, but I'm not the only golfer who's
protesting. There has been a groundswell of support among touring
pros from New Zealand. Stephen Scahill, Greg Turner and David
Smail, the defending New Zealand Open champion, have said they
too will not play unless prices are reduced, and Bob Charles has
congratulated me for my stance. I will keep in touch with
tournament officials, and there's plenty of time to reach an
agreement. I make only one demand, and it's a simple one: Reduce
the price by at least half and I'll play.
Michael Campbell is 15th in the World Ranking.
COLOR PHOTO: DANIEL MAURER/AP