Footy legends, golf fans and pros revel in Paradise Palms challenge
After an eight-year absence, the Qantas Cairns Classic is proving to be a hit with local fans and golf pros alike.
It's only day one of the Qantas Cairns Classic and already organisers are talking about ways they plan to make the event even bigger next year.
Perfect tropical weather, a host of footy legends and enthusiastic crowds have convinced the team at Paradise Palms that the Cairns Classic has huge potential to grow.
A mix of around 130 amateur, pro and celebrity players took part in yesterday's 18 Hole Sponsors and Celebrity Day, including Paul Vautin, Darren Lockyer, Taipans players and My Kitchen Rules contestants Mike and Tarquin, himself a pro player.
At 11am today, more than 50 professionals teed off in the three-day PGA event for the chance to win a share of the $50,000 prize pool.
The event is expected to be a key focal point of a plan to ramp up Cairns as a golfing tourism destination, with local courses joining forces to market the region to holidaying players around the world.
Declan McCollam from Troon Golf International - a global golf course management firm which recently partnered with Paradise Palms - said the community had responded warmly to the Cairns Classic after an 8-year absence.
"So many local kids came out to mix with the footy legends yesterday, the weather has been amazing and the feedback from all players is just incredibly positive," Mr McCollam said.
"The vision of owner Darren Halpin to bring Paradise Palms back to iconic status is starting to pay off and he's done an amazing job with the facilities and services here.
"This event is one of the top 5 in Queensland in terms of the prize pool and we're already looking at ways we can grow this event for next year and beyond.
"We'll be looking at a different time and date slot for next year so we can attract even more high profile players and it's our goal for Paradise Palms to become an essential social hub for the Cairns community."
The public is encouraged to head out to the course over the next two days to watch the action. For more details, visit the Cairns Classic site.