Alliance expands opportunities for region’s golfers

The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) has entered an open-ended partnership with the PGA Tour of Australasia, a groundbreaking deal that is expected to give Japanese golfers an enormous opportunity to play on the global stage with top players from around the world.

The ISPS, which organizes golf tournaments for blind people and promotes the globalization of the Japanese golf industry, will become the naming partner of the PGA Tour of Australasia.

“The support of ISPS of the PGA Tour of Australasia is a significant development for the tour and its players,” Brian Thornburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia, which oversees the tour, said at a news conference in Tokyo on June 6.

The ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia is the elite tournament destination for professional golf in Australasia. Encompassing events in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific — with a total purse of around $9 million Australian dollars — all tournaments on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia carry Official World Golf Ranking points.

Throughout the course of the season, professionals compete for the title of Order of Merit Champion. Awarded the prestigious Norman Von Nida Medal, past winners include Greg Norman, Peter Senior, Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley.

The ISPS believes the partnership will assist in its mission of uniting the world with golf.

Global golf tours are moving to unite together to take on the sole giant, the U.S. PGA Tour, which offers the most prize money, has the most events and draws the largest number of the best players.

“The PGA of Australasia Tour is a part of a growing global movement of the coming together of the various regional tours, including the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour,” ISPS Chairman Haruhisa Handa said. “It’s imperative for Japanese golfers to benefit from these international developments and for Japan to also be in a leading position in alliance with the major tours of the world.”

This is the first time the ISPS has supported an entire tour, but it already has multiple partial partnerships. The ISPS has partnered with tournaments on the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the PGA, the Japan Gold Tour, Ladies European Tour, Australian Ladies Professional Gold, LPGA, European Seniors Tour and the Asian Tour.

On June 6, Handa also announced the annual ISPS Handa Global Cup tournament, will be held at the Tokinodai Country Club in Hakui, Ishikawa Prefecture, from June 23 to June 26.

The ISPS Handa Global Cup is the second event following last year’s that was held at the Vintage Golf Club in Yamanashi Prefecture from June 25 to 28.

There are three themes underlying the ISPS Handa Global Cup — the globalization of golf, charity and contribution to area economies.

The ISPS Handa Global Cup will invite world-renowned players, including Charl Schwartzel, who has already won two events this year — the Valspar Championship in Florida and the Tshwane Open in South Africa — to participate.

On the charity front, the ISPS Handa Global Cup donates 5 percent of the prize money for social welfare purposes. This year, in addition to the donation, local elementary and junior high schools will send their students to watch the tournament and visit the media center and other operations of the ISPS Handa Global Cup.

The total prize will amount to ¥100 million, with the winner taking home ¥20 million.

At the end of the news conference, Thornburn congratulated Handa for receiving the New Zealand Order of Merit. According to the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of New Zealand, Handa was awarded an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit on the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honors List 2016 for his support of the New Zealand Women’s Open in Christchurch following the February 2011 earthquake that struck the city.

In addition to ISPS as the main sponsor, the tournament is supported by the Japan Golf Tour and endorsed by the Japan Golf Association, the Chubu Golf Association, the Golf Tournament Promotion Association of Japan Inc., Sankei Shimbun Co., The Mainichi Newspapers, The Japan Times, Sankei Sports, Hokkoku Shimbun and others.

ISPS is a nonprofit organization to promote sports, such as golf and bowling, in a belief that sports help achieve world peace. It also supports blind golf as its founder and chairman Handa, dubbed the father of blind golf in Japan, is the first person in Japan to establish a blind golf club, which is now called the Japan Blind Golf Association.

Handa also serves as chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, or IFAC, a nonprofit organization established to promote social welfare activities through music and art events.