Dinosaurs, signs prompt move
COOLUM, Australia (AP)
The PGA of Australia has confirmed it will move the venue of its PGA Championship, which was overshadowed last year by a billionaire resort owner's decision to position a giant robotic dinosaur outside the clubhouse and post unusual signage around the course.
PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn announced Monday that the tournament would be moved away from the Sunshine Coast region where it has been staged since 2000. The venue for the 2013 tournament has not been disclosed.
Thorburn said a ''lack of flexibility of dates ... and signage matters'' prompted golf's national governing body to seek alternatives to the resort owned by mining magnate Clive Palmer.
The contract with the resort had been in jeopardy since the 8-meter (26-foot) mechanical T-Rex nicknamed ''Jeff'' - placed between the ninth green and 10th tee - generated international headlines and plenty of jokes last year.
Palmer agreed to turn off the movement sensors on the dinosaur so it didn't flip its tail or open its mouth for a menacing roar during the tournament.
He also put up more than 60 signs around the golf course to promote his business interests, which includes his plan to build a replica of the Titanic. Some of those signs were in the landing areas on the fairways and forced organizers of the championship, which dates back to 1905, to mark those areas ''ground under repair'' during the tournament.
The Australian PGA Championship moved to Coolum in 2002 after two years at Royal Queensland in Brisbane, which is south of the Sunshine Coast. But it has also been played at Royal Melbourne, where Hale Irwin (1978) and Seve Ballesteros (1981) were among the winners, and other top Australian courses. The 2012 field included Adam Scott, Greg Norman, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy and Peter Senior.