Genesis Championship – Korea

Nick played in the Genesis Championship between the 24th and 27th May. The tournament was played at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, Korea and was hosted by the Korean PGA.

Nick finished in a tie for 39th on 9 over with scores of 72, 75, 72 and 78. The winner finished on 7 under par. There were only seven players out of the sixty three that made the cut who finished under par for the week.

In Nick’s own words…..

The Genesis Championship was a great experience for a number of reasons. I didn’t have my A game – in fact I was really battling with the ball striking (pull, push, thin, fat) but my short game and course management was so sharp the whole week that it kept me within range of the top ten. I was one over par through 61 holes but played the last eleven holes in eight over. The wheels really fell off at the end and it wasn’t the greatest feeling. I ended up finishing tied 39th. There are some key things to be learned from the good and from the bad.

The Good : )

My mid range putting was awesome – I was reading the greens well, my stroke was flowing and I was hitting the ball with great speed.

My short game and scrambling were really sharp – I was scrambling it at 67% and feeling like I got a lot of them up and down (I missed a lot of greens and therefore had a lot of opportunities).

My wedge game was on point this week – in fact it was probably the best wedge performance that I have had in a very long time. The pins were hard to access with firm greens, severe slopes and tucked pins but my distance control from 60 to 140 yards out was sensational.

I believe that my course management kept me in the game. The greens were so tricky, firm and fast and the course played long (plenty of mid-irons) that a great shot was actually ending up 20 to 30 feet away from the flag at times. Devin and I would fist pump when we hit a 7 iron pin high and to 20 feet because it was the right shot shape ending up on the right tier with plenty of danger around the flag. Putting it simply – it was very easy to make a bogey out of nowhere and I only made 8 for the week – I just had a few too many double bogey’s from bad execution – mostly off the tee.

Devin and I also did a great job taking care of our bodies. We hit the gym, did recovery sessions and made sure that jet lag wasn’t a factor.

Better….

My ball striking off the tee and outside 160 yards wasn’t quite up to standard. I was fighting a straight pull for the first bit of the week with the full swing. To try and counter this, I did some work on the range aiming left and trying to swingout to the right and nuetralize the path. This seemed to work for a bit with the feels but then I started missing it both ways. I did some work after each round to try and get some feels for the following day – feels were having a stable right leg to turn into, creating some width from the top and having more of a rightward path. I hit some decent shots out there but the numbers say it all – averaging 9 greens in regulation and wasting 2.3 shots off the tee.

View from the hotel

My courtesy driver

Welcome dinner with KJ Choi

First tee

Driving range up the road from the course

The following photos are some action shots on the course:

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Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada Q School – Arizona, USA

Nick flew back to the USA in late March to play in the PGA Tour Canada Qualifying School.

PGA Tour Canada is a men’s professional golf tour headquartered in Oakville, Ontario. It was formally started in 1970 and was initially known as the Peter Jackson Tour, and became the Canadian Professional Golf Tour in 1986. The U.S. PGA Tour took over operation of the tour on the 1st November 2012, at which time it was renamed PGA Tour Canada. Historically, it has been commonly known as the Canadian Tour.

In 2015, Mackenzie Investments became the tour’s umbrella sponsor. For the next six years the tour will be named the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Canada.

There are five qualifying tournaments for this tour – four are held in the USA and one in Canada in March and April. Nick played in the one held at the Wigwam Golf Resort – Gold Course in Phoenix, Arizona.

The qualifying tournaments consist of four rounds with no cut. The winner gets full exemption to play on the PGA Tour Canada for the next year. Those in the top sixteen get an exemption through the first four events. A reshuffle then occurs based on how well they have been playing. Those in the top forty are conditionally exempt meaning they may get some starts in tour events depending on the tournament and the numbers.

Despite a committed effort in all four rounds, Nick unfortunately came up short. He finished on four over and in a tie for fifty. The winner, Michael McGowan won in a play off and finished at eight under.

In Nick’s words…

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have my best stuff for the Canadian Q-School and have missed my opportunity to earn status for the upcoming summer. It was just one of those weeks; a little off with the ball striking, a cold putter and some poor decisions at critical times. The golf course was fair and scorable with generous fairways and pure greens. Devin and I battled hard to try and plot our way around with the game that we had but unfortunately the golf course had other plans for us – thats just the way it goes sometimes. I shot 4 over par and the cut to earn guaranteed starts on tour was 3 under par. Bugger!

In my time playing golf, I’ve come to understand that the journey towards great golf is more of a marathon than a sprint. Its about accepting the innate difficulty of the game and that performance will not always be perfect. That is also the beauty of the game – you are constantly learning and striving to get better. Good weeks will happen and so will bad. The key is to learn from the bad weeks, adjust the plan accordingly and use the adversity to fuel the fire.

I’ve had a tremendous start to my professional career and last week was simply a little blip in an otherwise upward trending process. I am using the next couple of weeks to relocate back to Iowa State. I see this as the best place for my development with the upcoming warmer climate, support team and the facility and resources that I available to me in Ames.

Looking forward, there are some local events to compete in but nothing really serious until the Australasian tour goes to Fiji for the Fiji International in August. I am working hard to secure playing opportunities elsewhere and have a few options that I am looking into.

I look forward to keeping you posted over the Northern Hemisphere summer as my plans unfold. Follow me on Facebook – Nick Voke Golf

Wigwam Golf Resort

The Wigwam Golf Resort has three world class courses – Gold, Blue and Red. The Gold Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior. It is rugged and mature with abundant sand traps and narrow fairways leading to small, hard greens. The course has been in play since 1965 and has been recognised as one of Arizona’s most challenging and respected golf courses – it is nicknamed “Arizona’s Monster”.

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ISPS Handa New Zealand Open – Queenstown, New Zealand

The New Zealand Golf Open was held on two of New Zealand’s most spectacular courses, Millbrook Resort and The Hills, between the 1st and 4th March. The tournament is sponsored by ISPS Handa.

International Sports Promotion Society (known as ISPS or as ISPS Handa) is a corporation designed to carry out activities contributing to social welfare and international co-operation through the promotion of sports and sports values. Founder Dr Haruhisa Handa is known as ‘The Father of Blind Golf in Japan’ due to the leading role he played in introducing the game of blind golf to the country.

ISPS Handa has a long history of supporting golf events around the globe, sponsoring tournaments on almost every major golf tour including the European Tour, PGA Tour, European Senior Tour, Asian Tour, Legends Tour, LPGA, Ladies European Tour, Japan PGA, Sunshine Tour, Golf Australia and the Australasian PGA. ISPS Handa has expanded to advocate for the recognition of differently-abled golfers, such as wounded veterans, in addition to blind golf. ISPS Handa offers training academies and inclusion opportunities in co-operation with some of golf’s most prestigious events.

ISPS Handa is a strong advocate for the ‘power of sport’ and its ability to create hope, to inspire people, and transform society. It is this conviction that has been the backbone of ISPS ‘s dedication to providing opportunities for blind and disabled golfers worldwide, with the long-term aim of enabling golf to become a Paralympic sport.

The ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a Tier One event co-sanctioned by the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.

The tournament will include a minimum field of 140 amateurs and 140 professionals playing alongside one another.  The professional golfers will compete for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open title whilst simultaneously a pairing of one professional and one amateur will play a best-ball format for the New Zealand Pro-Am Championship.

The field will be split across The Hills and Millbrook Resort for the first round of competition with all players alternating to the other course for the second round.

After the second round the top 60 + ties professionals will continue to the final two rounds of the tournament to be played at Millbrook Resort.

For the Pro-Am teams, the top 40 pairings will progress to compete in round three at Millbrook Resort, before a third round cut will see the top 10 Pro-Am teams progress to the final round at Millbrook Resort.

The tournament is unique in the Asia Pacific region with the Pro-Am format allowing amateurs to play inside the ropes during the heat of competition.

The tournament was a great success enjoyed by the players and spectators alike. Nick did well in his first NZ Open as a professional finishing as the top NZ player in a tie for 7th on 20 under par with rounds of 66, 68, 65 and 66. The winner was Daniel Nisbet from Australia who finished on 27 under par.

In Nick’s own words …

The New Zealand Open was a special tournament – it was my first time competing in our national open. To make it even more special I was paired with a superstar of our game – KJ Choi. My family came down from Auckland to watch and it was played in one of the most beautiful places on the planet! It was a specatuclar week and I played some very solid golf – I was finding fairways, throwing darts with my irons and holing some good putts. It was a whole lot of fun out there.

It is a tradition at the NZ Open that the players are recognized by the audience as they walk onto the 18th green – the two American’s I was playing with went first and were announced with some claps and whistles from the crowd. As I approached the green, Terry (the announcer) turned it up a notch and yelled out “AND FROM NEW ZEALAND” and the crowd started going nuts! I took off my hat after hearing my name and looked around at the people surrounding the putting green – everyone was on their feet as they welcomed and congratulated me on my week. It was a special feeling and sent shivers down my spine. Luckily, I kept my composure and 2 putted from about 40 feet to make my par 😅.

I’ve had the past week off training and am eager to get back into it. I head to Arizona on the 26th of March for the Canadian Q-school. My plan is to get playing status on the MacKenzie Tour in Canada and have a good season. This could open up some opportunities on the web.com Tour which is where I want to be.

The support following the NZ Open has been incredible – the messages, calls and comments online have been awesome. It is great knowing that so many people are behind me and genuinely want to see me succeed. I plan on doing just that 💪🏻😊.

The attached links detail NZ Golf’s coverage of the tournament:

Kiwi Kids to Feature at NZ Open – 28 February 2018

Bateman leads Kiwi contingent in low scoring affair – 1 March 2018

Hillier & Wilkinson impress as Australians dominate – 2 March 2018

Round of a lifetime gives Daniel Hillier a chance at NZ Open – 3 March 2018

Scintillating final round earns Daniel Nisbet New Zealand Open Title – 4 March 2018

Millbrook Resort

Designed by renowned professional and master golfer Sir Bob Charles, and renovated by Greg Turner in October 2010, this 27 hole championship course offers three different 18 hole combinations. Set on 500 acres, Millbrook’s course is best described as a mix between the world-class immaculately manicured “Parklands” courses and “Links” courses, offering a variety of natural hazards and stunning scenery.

Set in a natural alpine amphitheatre against the backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain Range, the golf course at Millbrook exploits the dramatic terrain fully, delivering world-class golf. Played across the Arrow and Coronet nines, competitors in theNew Zealand Open will face a stern test of strategy, skill and composure.

The Hills

The Hills was designed by Darby Partners and opened in 2007 to host the New Zealand Open. Set over 500 acres of land across a glacial valley the layout highlights the dramatic elevation changes and rocky schist outcrops that are a feature of the area. The course is owned by New Zealander Sir Michael Hill, founder of Michael Hill Jewellers.

A keen sponsor of the arts, Sir Michael believes we are only limited by the extent of our imagination. Sir Michael has created this contemporary sculpture park to house a diverse range of works. Pieces to date are mainly Australasian, but ‘The Wolves are Coming’, a major work from China is the start of expanding the collection internationally.

History of the New Zealand Open

The New Zealand Amateur Championship had been played since 1893 and at the 1906 championship meeting in Christchurch it was decided to hold a 36-hole Open Championship at the championship meeting in 1907, “open to any professional or amateur in any part of the world” with prizes of £25 and £10 for the leading professionals. The 1907 championship meeting was held at Napier Golf Club. The first round of the Open was played on the morning of 10 September, the amateurs also competing in a club team event. The professional David Hood and amateur J. Carne Bidwell led with rounds of 80. A handicap event was held on the following day and the second round of the Open was played on the morning of 12 September. The amateur Arthur Duncan had a second round of 76 to win with a score of 159, seven ahead of J. Carne Bidwell. The Scottish professional, Jack McLaren, finished third on 167 with David Hood fourth on 168. McLaren and Hood took the cash prizes of £25 and £10.

In 1908 the tournament was extended to 72 holes, and was won by Joe Clements, the first notable New Zealand-born professional golfer. There were no Opens from 1915 to 1918 due to World War I and the championship was again cancelled from 1940 to 1945 due to World War II. The Jellicoe Cup was presented by Viscount Jellicoe, the second Governor-General of New Zealand, in 1924 and is awarded for the lowest round in the championship. The Bledisloe Cup was presented by Lord Bledisloe, the fourth Governor-General, in 1934 and is awarded to the leading amateur.

In 1954 Bob Charles, who was later to become the only New Zealander to win a major championship in the 20th century, won as an 18-year-old amateur. He won again in 1966, 1971 and 1973, as a professional, and he and the two Australian major champions Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle dominated the event from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s. Other well known winners have included the American Corey Pavin in 1984 and 1985, and Michael Campbell in 2000. Campbell joined Charles as a major champion when he won the 2005 U.S. Open.

In 2002 Tiger Woods took part as a thank you to his New Zealand caddieSteve Williams, but he did not win. His participation caused some controversy when ticket prices were raised sharply that year.

The New Zealand Open is a PGA Tour of Australasia tournament, and in 2005 was co-sanctioned for the first time by the European Tour, which led to a doubling of the prize fund to 1.5 million New Zealand Dollars. The European Tour had co-sanctioned PGA Tour of Australasia events before, but they had all been in Australia, making this the tour’s first ever visit to New Zealand. In 2006 the event was moved to November, taking its place on the European Tour schedule for the following calendar year. The 2007 event was the last to be co-sanctioned by the European Tour, and with the tournament being rescheduled to March, there was also no New Zealand Open on the 2008 Australasian Tour. The 2009 and 2010 tournaments were also co-sanctioned by the Nationwide Tour, the official development tour of the PGA Tour. Since 2011 it has been solely sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Since 2014 the Championship has been a pro-am event. A professional field of about 140 play with an amateur partner for the first two rounds, alternately at The Hills and Millbrook Resort before the second round cut of 60 and ties. From 2014 and 2016 the final two rounds of the championship were played at The Hills but in 2017 they will be played at Millbrook Resort. The New Zealand Pro-Am Championship runs alongside to the main tournament in a best-ball format. After a second round cut the top 40 pro-am pairs progress to round three at The Hills, with a further cut to the top 10 pairs who play in the final round.

1907

There had been competition golf played since 1893, but in the inaugural New Zealand Open at Napier Golf Club a record 130 players participated. The field included 123 amateurs and seven professionals and was dominated by amateur legend A.D.S.(Arthur) Duncan who became the first New Zealand Open Champion.

1908

J.A.Clements from Wanganui was only 19 years old when he became the first New Zealand born professional to win. He went on to become prominent in the games development. He went on to win again in 1909 & 1912.

1910

A.D.S.Duncan dominates at Christchurch’s Shirley course winning with a total of 295, a tournament record that would stand for 20 years. Duncan won again in 1911 at Belmont in Wanganui.

1913

E.S. Douglas, a newcomer from Scotland won his first NZ Open in bitter conditions at Balmacewen. He went on to defend in 1914 at Auckland’s Middlemore course, then after the NZ Open was not played during the war years returned to make it three in a row in 1919. That event was back at Napier Golf Club. Douglas would win for the last time in 1921.

1920

J.H.Kirkwood becomes the first Australian to win, being the only player to record all four rounds in the 70’s.

1924

The Jellicoe Cup for the lowest individual round was presented by Earl Jellicoe of Scapa. The inaugural winner was A.D.S.Duncan with a score of 71. Duncan finished runner up to E.J. (Ernie) Moss in an event played at Middlemore. Moss would win again in 1927 & 1933.

1926

Andy Shaw won the first of his seven New Zealand Open Championships. At Miramar in this year he beat E.J. Moss in an 18 hole play-off. Shaw went on to win four in a row, 1929-1932, 1934 and 1936. Shaw was truly a legend of the game in this era.

1930 Shaw’s winning score of 284 was a new record and bettered only once in the next 20 years.

1934

The Bledisloe Cup for leading amateur at the New Zealand Open was presented by Viscount Bledisloe with the inaugural winner Brian Silk.

1937

Scottish professional Alex Murray, having won in 1935, was sensationally disqualified after returning the best four round total. He had practiced his putting on the fringe of a green on the 8th green in the final round. Amateur J.P.Hornabrook went on to win in a three way play off. He would win again in 1939. Murray would bounce back to win in 1948 & 1952.

1938

South African legend Bobby Locke wins at Balmacewen.

1946

After returning from the war Bob Glading won back to back New Zealand Open Championships.

1950

Peter Thomson wins the first of his nine New Zealand Open Championships.

1954

18 year old amateur sensation Bob Charles stares down two of the best players in the world, Peter Thomson and Bruce Crampton to with the first of his four titles.

1956

Australian Harry Berwick becomes the last amateur to win the New Zealand Open when beating Bob Charles and Stuart Jones by two strokes at Shirley.

1957

Kel Nagle wins the first of his seven New Zealand Open Championships, in an era dominated by Australians, particularly Thomson.

1958

One of the games greats Gary Player finishes 3rd behind Nagle and Thomson.

1964

The New Zealand Open Championship becomes a stand-alone event and no longer played beside the Amateur Championship.

1966

Bob Charles wins his first New Zealand Open as a professional. Played at Paraparaumu Beach and a strong field including England’s Tony Jacklin, Charles won by a record 13 strokes which still stands today.

1976

Simon Owen wins his only New Zealand Open Championship at Heretaunga.

1980

The legendary Payne Stewart traveled down under playing in the New Zealand Open. Stewart went on to win three majors before his tragic death in 1999.

1983

Ian Baker-Finch wins his first national Open Championship, later going on to win the 1991 British Open.

1984

Another future major winner plays in the New Zealand Open. Corey Pavin won at Paraparaumu and returned the next year to successfully defend his title at Russley.

1986

Australian Rodger Davis sets the scoring record when winning his first of two New Zealand Opens at the Grange. He won by eight shots scoring 67, 62, 65 and 68. A young Jose-Maria Olazabal finished 7th. Davis won again in 1991.

1987

It took a seven hole play-off before Irishman Ronan Rafferty beat American Larry Nelson. Later that year Nelson won his third major championship, the US PGA.

1989

Greg Turner wins his first New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu by six shots. He again won in 1997 at Auckland Golf Club.

1992

Grant Waite wins his only New Zealand Open and along the way making an albatross two on the par 5 18th at Paraparaumu.

1995

The challenge with scheduling dates on the Australasian Tour mean an unusual year when two New Zealand Open Championships are played. Lucas Parsons won at Heretaunga in January and later in December Peter O’Malley was victorious at The Grange.

1996

Michael Long completes his incredible haul of national titles adding the New Zealand Open to his Amateur (1990), Junior (1988) and Boys (1985) titles.

1998

An emotional win for kiwi Matthew Lane at the new Formosa course in Auckland.

2000

Michael Campbelll shoots 64 in the final round to tie compatriot Craig Perks before winning with an eagle on the 2nd play-off hole.

2001

David Smail wins his only New Zealand Open Championship.

2002

World number one Tiger Woods plays the New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu but the event is affected by a terrorist threat. Woods finished in a tie for 5th. Australian Craig Parry won the title claiming it to be the most important win of his career at the time.

2003

Mahal Pearce produces four sub-par rounds to win the 86th Open Championship.

2004

Amateur Brad Heaven nearly becomes the first amateur in 47 years to win the New Zealand Open, falling one shot short to eventual champion Terry Price.

2005

The New Zealand Open co-sanctions with the European Tour improving the quality of the field. Niclas Fasth wins in a play-off at Gulf Harbour.

2007

The New Zealand Open moves to The Hills for the next three years. This is the final year of the European co-sanction, but is replaced for the next two by the USPGA secondary tour (Nationwide) co-sanctioning. Bob Charles becomes the oldest player to make the cut in an official European Tour event, aged 71.

2011

Despite the February 2011 earthquake which killed 185 people, New Zealand Golf retain Clearwater as the venue. Brad Kennedy wins in a play off from 2002 champion Craig Parry, while kiwi Josh Geary finished 3rd.

2014

The NZ Open returns to Queenstown with the Hills and Millbrook co-hosting the tournament. The National Championship introduces a new innovative pro-am format where amateurs and celebrities play alongside the pros.

2015

Jordan Zunic, only six weeks after turning professional, wins his maiden PGA Tour of Australasia title with an incredible -21 score

2016

Australian Matt Griffin narrowly holds off Hideto Tanihara to win the Brodie Breeze Cup. Followed by Mike Hendry, Shunsuke Sonoda and Yoshi Fujimoto with all of the top five playing on the Japan Tour.

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Horizon Golf NZPGA Championship – Manawatu, New Zealand

The NZPGA Championship for 2018 was held between the 22nd and 25th February. The Manawatu Golf Club in Palmerston North hosted the event on its Hokowhitu course. The tournament is sanctioned by the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and carried prize money of NZD125,000.

The leading New Zealand player in the Championship will receive the Sir Bob Charles Trophy, which was initiated in 2015 and won by Josh Geary. Ben Campbell won this title in 2017.

The New Zealand PGA Championship has been played since 1920 although there were some years where the tournament was not held. It was originally a match play event and switched to stroke play in 1965. Major championship winners who have claimed the New Zealand PGA title include Sir Bob Charles, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Tony Jacklin.

Sponsorship problems caused the tournament to be terminated after the 1987 event. In 2002, a PGA Tour of Australasia and US based Nationwide Tour co-sanctioned event called the Holden Clearwater Classic was started at Clearwater Resort in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was played again in 2003 and in 2004 the event resumed the name New Zealand PGA Championship. Co-sanctioning with the Nationwide Tour ended in 2009.

Nick finished in a tie for 7th on 13 under par. After a bad first round of five over he went on to have the round of the day in round two of 7 under followed by 6 under and 5 under. The tournament was won by Ben Campbell for the second year in a row – he finished on 18 under.

In Nicks own words…..

The NZ PGA was quite the adventurous week. I flew into Wellington straight from Brisbane, picked up my Jucy wheels and made the trip up to Palmerston North. We arrived just as Cyclone Gita was lashing the country – fortunately we were spared the brunt of it and we only had a little bit of wind to deal with.

We kicked off the first round with a 5 over par 76 – it was the most bizzare round I have played for some time. The golf course wasn’t playing too tricky despite the wind and I wasn’t playing all that bad. I was 2 over par through 11 holes and just shaving the holes with my birdie attempts. Nothing seemed to be going my way! I kept on reminding myself that I just needed one putt to fall or one favourable bounce and then I would be away. Over the last few holes I made a few more sloppy mistakes and all of a sudden I found myself at 5 over par. On the 16th hole, I hit a 5 iron into the greenside bunker and had a tough up and down. I knew that it could be a turning point as another bogey would almost guarantee missing the cut. I managed to hole a 7 foot par putt and parred the last two holes making my job a little easier in the second round.

That night a whole range of thoughts came to me. Half of me had started creating other plans for the weekend (should I go back to Auckland or take the weekend off) while the other half was still there to fight. I had no idea whether or not I could turn things around but I knew to do so I had to go low tomorrow; bomb the driver, wedge it close and make the putts.

The first two holes of the second round set the tone. On the 10th hole I hit driver, a 107 yard shot and had a 7 foot birdie. On the 11th hole I hit a 137 yard shot and sunk a 10 foot birdie. I wasn’t going down without a fight. On the par five 13th hole I bombed a drive down the middle and hit the flag with my 8 iron and had a tap in eagle putt. This got me back on the cut line. Things continued to go my way, I shot a 7 under 64 in the second round to be 2 under total and make the cut on the number. It was a fight back that I will never forget. What a change in events from the first round – golf is a funny game like that.

The weekend rounds were similar to the second round; I was assertive, confident and played free. I shot 65 and 66 to climb from outside the cut line and looking at flights to Auckland to a tied 7th in my first New Zealand PGA. The last three rounds combined for 18 under (13 under total) and showed me what I was capable of when I remain patient, embrace adversity and let myself play the game of golf I like to play.

The Monday following the even I flew down to Queenstown to start my preparation for the New Zealand Open. I have heard great things about the tournament and the town, I can’t wait to see what its all about and share it with you all.

Manawatu Golf Club

At 3pm on 11 April 1895 a group of Palmerston North citizens met at the residence of Mr L.A.Abraham.  Mr R.S.Abraham moved “That a golf club be formed to be called the Manawatu Golf Club”.  The motion was carried and the club was born.

Numerous similar meetings were held up and down the length of New Zealand in the 1880’s and 90’s and with a desire to get golf started as soon as possible, unfortunately, for one reason or another most of the original sites chosen for play proved to be unsuitable.  However, the founders of the Manawatu Golf Club were more fortunate in choosing Hokowhitu as the site for their club.  Championships are therefore being played on the oldest course in New Zealand.

Nine holes over 2773 yards were established for play on leased land and in 1904 this was increased to an 18 hole course by including the neighbouring polo ground. In 1908 the Club obtained freehold title to some 116 acres which included the polo ground and since then various land sales and exchanges have taken place and the present layout is on about 106 acres.

Although there were a few clumps of stunted native bush on Hokowhitu in 1895 the parkland course of today belies the original barrenness of the land which was strewn with stones in some parts and bog-like in others.  Converting land which had been grazing cattle and sheep into a golf course was a slow and often difficult process.  In this conversion the Club was fortunate to be closely associated with turf scientists working in Palmerston North from the 1930’s, some of whom were members of the Club.  Successive green keepers have enthusiastically embraced the evolving techniques of turf management and, as a consequence, the greens and fairways of Hokowhitu can now withstand all but the most adverse climatic conditions.

Early fears of flooding have been confined on a number of occasions and the worst occurrence was in 1941 when floodwaters swept through the main gates and immersed more than half the course.  Fortunately for the Club the need to protect much of Palmerston North’s residential areas has led to the construction of a substantial stop bank along the golf course boundary and the value of this was evident as recently as February 2004 when the Manawatu River came within a few feet of the top of the newly heightened bank.  However, the 16th hole which was on the river side of the stop bank remained at the mercy of the flooded Manawatu River and was inundated in 2004.

Initially the Polo Club’s pavilion located between the 12th and 14th fairways was used by the golfers as their Clubhouse and in 1903 the first modest building solely for golfers was cited on the present first tee.  In 1910 the Club engaged Natusch, a prominent architect of that time, to design a substantial Clubhouse.  Remodelling and reconstruction followed a hurricane in 1936, major additions were made in 1965 and further renovation and reconstruction was carried out in 1984.  In 2009 the club rebuilt the it’s clubhouse virtually from scratch after raising $1.2M in member debentures, gaining trust grants and raising a bank loan to pay for the new $2.3M Clubhouse. The only part of the old clubhouse was the back block which included a basement and upstairs lounge. In 2014 the club renovated the old upstairs lounge to the quality of the new downstairs area which completed the clubhouse.

Three golf course architects have had major inputs into the Hokowhitu golf course.  First, in 1928, C.H.Redhead, an Irish engineer at the time domiciled in Rotorua, was engaged to redesign the course layout which included extensive bunkering which remains a feature of today’s course.

In 1955 H.G.Babbage of Te Awamutu, engaged on the recommendation of the NZ Golf Council, made further substantial alterations to the arrangement of the course.  These incorporated the Defence Department’s disused Rifle Range as the15th hole.  Land exchanges with the City Council, to permit the widening of Centennial Drive, led to altered 10th and 11th holes.  In the 2000’s a new par three 4th hole has replaced a par three hole which had been played as the 8th. This hole is still at the club and is located towards the end of the practice fairway. This re-routing of the course prevented two par 3’s being played consecutively (7 & 8) and also allows the practice range to play a longer length.

In 2012 the club contracted architect Tommy Cushnahan to re design the 16th and work with Horizon’s Council while they realigned the stop bank and increased its height again. This meant the 16th hole would now be inside the stop bank and protected from the river. This new Par 3 was opened in November 2012. Cushnahan has also created new bunkering on 2 & 15 as established trees have been removed from these holes.

Hokowhitu hosted its first New Zealand Open Championship in 1922 with others following in 1930, 1946, 1957, and in 1973 when Sir Bob Charles, our renowned New Zealand left-hander, won the title.  Many major championships have been played on the course, including seven New Zealand Amateurs, five New Zealand Ladies Amateur Championships and several North Island Amateur Championships and Interprovincial Championships.  The Lawnmaster Classic has been a regular feature since 1985 and in 2013 became a Professional tournament as part of the Charles Tour of New Zealand.

Grant Waite, Craig Perks and Tim Wilkinson are notable professionals who were junior members at Manawatu before making their way onto the USPGA Tour.  This makes the Manawatu Golf Club the only course in New Zealand to foster and develop three players through to the pinnacle of professional golf.    Manawatu has seen a number of world class players stroll our fairways with the likes of Vijay Singh who played in the 1982 Pro-Am and the 2004 Open Champion, Todd Hamilton, who was here in 1984 as a member on the University of Oklahoma Golf Team which played in a 36-hole Team Event. In 2014 Manawatu Golf Club member Joshua Munn won the New Zealand Amateur Championship in Nelson. Josh continues the legacy of great players to have come out of the club.

From its beginnings over a century ago, continual development has converted Hokowhitu into a course which now provides a stern test of golfing ability in attractive park like surroundings.

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Coca Cola Queensland PGA Championship – Queensland, Australia

Nick played in the Coca Cola Queensland PGA Championship between the 15th and 18th February 2018. The tournament was held at the City Golf Club in Toowoomba which is about 125 kilometres west of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane.

The Queensland PGA Championship has been played since 1926. Past winners include NZ’s Daniel Pearce in 2017, Ryan Fox in 2015 and Gareth Paddison in 2011. The City Golf Club has hosted this event since 2009.

Nick tied for 21st on 10 under par. The winner was Daniel Fox from Western Australia who finished on 18 under par.

In Nick’s own words…..

I didn’t play all that well throughout the week – I was sloppy off the tee leaving many chip outs and my putter was on the cooler side. When it was all over however, I had shot 10 under and tied for 21st in my third start as a professional golfer. I’ve got my chipping and pitching to thank for that – I chipped in three times in an eighteen hole stretch. I holed a bunker shot on my 54th hole just as I did at the VIC Open! I might have to start aiming for them if this continues 😃.

Throughout the week, I played with some pretty big names on the Australasian circuit – Stephen Jeffress, Nick Flanagan and Nathan Green. I was amused to find that my 2 iron was going past some of their drivers but they had the last laugh when they beat me on the round though!

I’m now back in NZ at the NZ PGA down at the Manawatu Golf Course in Palmerston North. I’ve sharpened up a few areas and am feeling pretty good going into the next four rounds! Time to stay patient, stick to my game plan and find my best. Fairways and Greens.

City Golf Club Toowoomba

From humble beginnings in 1926 the City Golf Club, Toowoomba has stood strong in supporting the community. Through 8 decades of depressions, wars, floods and droughts, the City Golf Club has proudly given back to the community it is a part of. As a not-for-profit organisation, all profits made are distributed to where the community needs it. In 2014 alone, the Club supported 76 local community services and charities, ensuring their community maintained access to vital services that lacked funding. The Club also supports 16 other golf courses in the region, to ensure everyone has the opportunity to experience the game of golf and also proudly fosters the games professionals like Karen Pearce.

City Golf Club has been a constant advocate and supporter in professional golfing with the likes of Greg Norman, Peter Senior, Steven Bowditch and Cameron Smith to name a few who have enjoyed the championship course. Since 2009 the City Golf Club has hosted the prestigious Queensland PGA Championships drawing hundreds of professional golfers to the community bringing both tourism and growth opportunity to the region.

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Oates Vic Open – Melbourne, Australia

The. 2018 Oates Vic Open was played between the 1st and 4th February at 13th Beach Golf Links on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria.

There are two courses at 13th Beach Golf Links – the Beach Course and the Creek Course. The first two rounds of the tournament were played on both courses. After the cut was made the final two rounds were played on the Beach Course.

The Oates Vic Open is the premier event on the Golf Victoria calendar for both amateurs and professionals. In a format unique to world professional golf, the Oates Vic Open titles (men and women) are simultaneously staged over 72 holes stroke play at the 13th Beach Golf Links with respective starting fields of 144 players.

Both titles attract emerging young men and women professional and amateur golfers from all over Australia and overseas.

The Men’s Open has been the pinnacle event in Victorian men’s golf since being first played at Riversdale in 1957 with the inaugural title won by Australian golfing legend, Ossie Pickworth.

Many world-famous players have claimed the men’s title including Australia’s five-time British Open winner, Peter Thomson (1958, 1968 and 1973); South Africa’s Gary Player (1959); Bruce Devlin (1962 and 1963); Kel Nagle (1967 and 1969); David Graham (1970); Greg Norman (1984) and Robert Allenby (1991).

The Women’s Championship was first played in 1988 but experienced a 20-year hiatus after the 1992 event. In order to provide an equivalent elite event for Victorian women’s golf; stimulate participation/promotion of the game to the entire Victorian community and highlight Golf Victoria’s role as the peak body for men’s and women’s golf in the State, the Women’s Open title was reintroduced in 2012.

The Championship was simultaneously staged with the Men’s Open at the Spring Valley and Woodlands Golf Clubs over 54-holes in January 2012 and was a resounding success.

In 2013, the Championship moved to 13th Beach Golf Links and successfully grew further both in terms of media interest and prizemoney. Both titles were simultaneously conducted on the 36-hole facility and attracted high quality fields and large spectator numbers.

In 2018, the shared prize pool is the largest it has been with the men’s and women’s fields competing for AU650,000 each – up AU150,000 on 2017.

Nick finished in a tie for 13th with a score of eight under par. The winner was Australian Simon Hawkes who beat Harrison Endycott in a play off to earn him the biggest pay cheque of his four year career to date. They both finished on 14 under par.

Another Australian, Minjee Lee won the women’s title on 13 under par, five shots clear of the second place getter, Karis Davidson.

For more information on the tournament go to http://www.vicopengolf.com

In Nick’s own words…

I got off to a flying start with an opening round of 7 under par shooting 65. I played the Creek Course first (the easier of the two) and it was one of those days where things really went my way. I was hitting shots close (and missing them in good spots), getting fortunate bounces and having the putts roll in (pushing/pulling putts that broke more and still found the hole). I was 5 under par through the first 7 holes and I never looked back! It was a lot of fun to take it really low like that. I haven’t had a competitive round that low in a while and I couldn’t have done it at a better time.

Rounds two and three were much more challenging. I played the Beach Course for my last 54 holes and I encountered some firm fast greens, tucked pins and strong winds. The conditions meant that I couldnt fire at many pins (as they were so tough to access) and therefore a good shot could have been 20 feet away. As a result of the conditions and some sloppy execution on my part, I mixed 6 bogeys with 4 birdies throughout rounds two and three to move back to 5 under par with one round to go. The highlight of the tournament came at the end of round three. After chipping my ball into the bunker on the 18th which is a reachable par 5, I proceeded to hole my bunker shot and was rewarded the shot of the day. The bunker shot was tweeted across the Ladies European Tour and PGA of Australasia twitter pages and I enjoyed watching it (a few too many times). 😂😂

Round four was the time to fire; the wind was down and the course was getable. Unfortunately, after hooking my opening tee shot into a fairway bunker and hitting the next shot well left of the green, I started my round with a double bogey on the opening hole. Not the start I was hoping for. As I walked to the second tee, Devin and I talked about how we have overcome adversity like this in the past and that it was still going to be a great day on the links. The mindset shifted from “lets try and hit something like this” to “lets do this”. There was more clarity and urgency in the process, I couldn’t slip up anymore. The next 17 holes were very solid – I combined solid shot making with well thought out course management to card a 3 under par 69 on the final day. I was very pleased to claw the round back into the 60’s.

I finished on 8 under par and tied for 13th, a decent showing with plenty of positives to take away with me. I have contended well at my first two events as a professional golfer and I have every intention to continue doing that. I head to Brisbane on Monday the 12th February for the Queensland PGA, a tier 2 event. It will be a great time to get back in contention and work towards that first win as a professional. From there I fly straight to the NZ PGA in Wellington and then onto the NZ Open in Queenstown. Plenty of good golf to come.

There were four Cyclones (Iowa State University) past or future graduates in the field at the Vic Open – Ruben Sondjaja, Jackson Kalz (starting at Iowa in August 2018) and Nick. Prima Thammaraks was in the women’s field.

13th Beach Golf Links

In the early 1920’s the Australian Jam Company purchased 405 acres at 13th Beach and established an asparagus farm. The original diesel pump which provided water for irrigation is still beside the 5th tee of The Beach Course. Asparagus farming ceased in the early 1970’s when the property was acquired for beef cattle production. The size of the property was substantially increased to over 830 acres.

In 1999, a joint venture was established to create a premium golf and residential precinct on 520 acres. The master plan allowed for 27 holes of golf, clubhouse facility, 150 residential allotments and 150 condominiums.

The Beach Course (designed by Tony Cashmore), the first 18 hole course measuring 6,420 metres, is set along the property’s 2.1km of surf beach frontage. The course was opened for play on 30 November 2001. The course has already been ranked among Australia’s best 20 golf courses by two national golf magazines. The Creek Course (designed by Sir Nick Faldo and Tony Cashmore), spanning 6,401 metres has 18 holes and was opened on 1 January 2004 to wide acclaim.

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New Zealand Masters – Auckland, New Zealand

Following a two year absence on the NZ professional golf calendar the New Zealand Masters returned to Auckland from the 11th to 14th January. It was only fitting that Nick played his first tournament as a professional in the first event of the season on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia.

The tournament was played at the new Wainui Golf Club north of Auckland. It featured a couple of prominent NZ professionals in Ryan Fox and Michael Hendry. Nick was fortunate enough to play with Michael in the first two rounds and with Ryan in the third round. Both these players are ranked in the top 140 players in the world.

The tournament is the brainchild of two diehard golfing fans and well known Auckland businessmen, Gerard Peterson and Rod Duke. Longtime supporters of many New Zealand golfing professionals, they saw an opening for this type of tournament in Auckland.

Nick finished in a tie for 8th on 1 under par. The winner was Australia’s Matthew Millar who finished on 11 under par.

In Nick’s own words….

I was very pleased with how I performed at the NZ Masters for my professional debut. I finished on 1 under par to finish in the top ten in a tie for eighth. It was a very cool week – I got to stay with a family friend in Orewa and drive my mighty Toyota Corolla to and from the event each day. I had a good mate on the bag and lots of familiar supportive faces in the crowd. It was a friendly introduction to a profession that can be ruthless and unforgiving.

I was pleased with the end result but I didn’t actually play that well throughout the week. My ball striking, especially off the tee, was a little scratchy and I hit a lot of wayward approach shots. There were a few sloppy swings at pivotal times and I paid the price as a result. Having said that, my putting inside 10 feet was pretty solid and I kept on mentally grinding away trying to shoot the best score I possibly could. I was optimizing things out there and I am immensely proud of that.

The coolest part of the week was playing with Michael Hendry in rounds one and two and then with Ryan Fox in round three. The galleries that these guys attracted were the largest out there (and I was telling everyone that I was bringing in the crowds 😂) and we weren’t really in contention! They were both really friendly and showed some genuine interest in my time at Iowa State University and my plans going forward. I look forward to seeing them both out there in the bigger tournaments in the future.

I managed to make a little bit of money this week but what I will also take away with me are a few key things that I learned about myself during a professional competition. I have two weeks to iron out a few creases before I am back in action at the Victorian Open in Melbourne from the 1st to the 4th February.

Wainui Golf Club

Peninsula Golf Club was opened in 1956 and were based in Red Beach just north of Auckland. On the 3rd of August 2007 a proposal was put forward from a developer to purchase the Peninsula Golf Club land at Red Beach in exchange for a new golf course and clubhouse to the clubs specification plus a substantial monetary offer. On the 7th September 2009 a heads of agreement was signed to sell the Peninsula Golf Club land in exchange for a new course at Wainui.

The new Wainui Golf Club was opened in August 2016 after being designed by Puddicombe Golf – the outcome of an 8 year journey.

The 18 hole championship course is set in an iconic New Zealand rural back drop. The course is cut through rolling hills, natural water ways and is framed by 80 year old statement pines and precise bunkering.

There is also a 9 hole course called the Orchard 9 which is made up of 80 to 130 metre par threes all with their own distinct features and playing characteristics. The Orchard 9 is situated amongst a feijoa orchard and has the same playing surfaces as the championship course.

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