A dinosaur leaves its imprint on Australian PGA
Coolum, Australia • Golfers at the Australian PGA Championship might feel as if they are going back in time.
Way back in time.
The new owner of the Palmer Coolum Resort has erected a 26-foot mechanical T-Rex between the ninth green and 10th tee, which flips its tail and opens its mouth for a menacing roar when anyone approaches. The owner, billionaire Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer, has at least agreed to turn it off during the tournament.
But it's one reason The PGA of Australia is considering whether to leave Coolum after 11 years.
"I've heard it sounds like we are going to Jurassic Park, so this will be interesting," pro golfer Robert Allenby said.
Palmer wants to import more molded dinosaurs and turn the ocean resort into a theme park, or maybe a casino. But his plans have clashed with a tournament that dates to 1905. The owner already has put up more than 60 signs around the golf course to promote his interests, which includes his plan to build a replica of the Titanic.
Some of those signs, however, are in the landing areas on the fairways. That forced organizers to mark those areas "ground under repair," where golfers will be able to move the ball if the shot is affected by the signs.
Last week, the issue came to a head with Australian PGA Tour officials, and the tournament appeared in jeopardy.
But on Sunday, Tour officials said they will consider a revised offer from Palmer to keep the event on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.
PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn said that the board of directors would next week consider a new offer from Palmer that could see the event remain at the player-favored resort.
"We have had a great run on the Sunshine Coast, it has been fantastic, but nothing stays forever," Thorburn said.
Palmer tweeted recently: "We had some issues with pgaofaustralia but all now resolved amicably and we are looking forward to the tournament at Palmer Coolum Resort."
The tournament moved to Coolum in 2002 after two years at Royal Queensland in Brisbane. But it's also been played at Royal Melbourne, where Hale Irwin (1978) and Seve Ballesteros (1981) were among the winners, and other top Australian courses. This year's field includes Adam Scott, Greg Norman, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy and Australian Open champion Peter Senior.
The T-Rex is nicknamed "Jeff" and it is activated by movement. Golfers playing social rounds recently have taken "dinosaur mulligans" when the roar occurs during a backswing on the 10th tee.
Palmer agreed to turn off the robotic features of the dinosaur during the tournament.
When asked if he ever imagined the century-old Australian PGA would be played on a course with a 26-foot T-Rex, Thourburn smiled and said "no."
"But having said that, let's put it into perspective," he added. "It has generated some tremendous publicity for this tournament and we don't have a big marketing budget so in that regard everybody knows that the PGA is on at Coolum at the moment."
Defending champion Greg Chalmers was taken aback by the prehistoric beast.
"I'm glad it's not roaring, that's a good start," Chalmers said. "It is just a little strange. It is not what I expected to see."