A currency slump and slowing economy have cost India its biggest golf tournament after sponsors pulled out of the country’s only European Tour event on Thursday.
The nation’s most lucrative golf event, the $2.3-million Avantha Masters, will no longer feature on the Indian calendar from next year due to the decline of the Indian currency against the US dollar. The Avantha Masters’ purse proved to be its downfall, as the falling Indian rupee meant that Avantha was having to put in more and more money to pay the $2.3 million purse offered in recent years. Avantha, the paper said, had to increase its cash contribution as much 57% this year just to sustain the event.
Effectively, this means the Professional Golf Tour of India could lose over 40% in prize money, down from $6 million, to $3.5 million in 2014 with three international events left, the $300,000 SAIL-SBI Open, $300,000 Panasonic Open India and the $1.25-million Indian Open.
An Avantha Group spokesperson said, “The Avantha Group has concluded that in order to attract top talent, both the timing of the event in the golf calendar along and a substantial prize money increase will be required. Given the current economic condition, this is not the appropriate moment to do so and the group has therefore not renewed its contract with the European Tour.”
India is currently grappling with an economic crisis with the local currency having fallen 20% against the U.S. dollar since the end of April. For now, European Tour officials are keeping the Avantha Masters’ dates – the week of March 23, 2014 – open, in hopes that another sponsor steps forward. According to event sponsors, “..it’s a great challenge to support an event of this nature in India, especially when a sponsor is not sure how much revenue it would generate or get in terms of publicity with a minuscule target audience and following”.
That’s not the only event to be affected. Another event that is set to vanish from next year is the Kensville Gujarat Challenge, the only European Challenge Tour event in the country hosted in Ahmedabad since 2011 with a prize purse of 2,00,000 Euros.