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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Australasian Final Qualifying School – Melbourne, Australia

Nick returned home to New Zealand in early December to start his professional golfing career by gaining his card for the Australasian tour.

The final round of qualifying school for the Australasian tour was held at Moonah Links in Victoria, Australia. It was held over four rounds. On a count back, Nick finished in 14th place on three under. The winner finished on sixteen under and won AU12,000. Where you finish in the field determines what playing privileges you have on the Australasian PGA Tour in the following year.

In Nick’s own words…..

After coming up a few shots short of my web.com tour card, I set my sights on the Australasian Qualifying School at Moonah Links, Melbourne on December the 19th to the 22nd. I flew from Iowa State to Auckland on the 4th of December and had a solid week laying down my foundations for training.

I played solid golf in this event, balancing together some very smart and well executed shots with some not so good ones. It wasn’t the best week but it was good enough to secure me playing privileges on the tour which was the main objective of the week – I shot 3 under par over the 72 holes, finishing 14th out of a field of 78.

This decent finish has opened up some good playing opportunites. How the tournament fields are typically organised is through a players ranking in their category; category 1 is reserved for winners of premier events like the Australian Open and Australian PGA while category 20 is for the top 5 Australian trainee professionals. Once all the entries for an event have been recieved, the top 144 (or whatever size the field is) get ranked by their category with the superior rankings getting in first.

I earned category 16 status and am 14th in that category. This status will probably not get me into the big co-sanctioned events like the ISPS Perth Super 6 or the Australian PGA but it should get me into the big tier 1 events like the NZ Open, FIJI International and the Australian Open. Again, some great playing opportinuties and a place to learn and grow as a professional golfer.

My first event on the Australaisian Tour takes place between the 11th and 14th of January in Wainui for the New Zealand Masters. Other events on my radar at the start of the year include the Victorian Open in Australia, the NZ Open, the NZ PGA and the Queensland PGA in Australia. Additionally, there could be a couple of sponsor invites on the European tour so I am keeping my fingers crossed for those. This competitive golf should see me through until early April when I will head back over to the USA for the Canadian Qualifying School and the American summer. Lots of good golf to be played!

I wish everybody a fantastic festive season with plenty of birdies and sunshine!! Thanks again for the support and I hope to see you all soon.

Moonah Links Golf Club

There are two courses at Moonah Links – the Open Course and the Legends Course

”The Open Course at Moonah Links is the first ever 18 holes built and prepared for a national championship. With exceptional viewing platforms for spectators. It is one of the longest courses in Australia, and probably in the world in this category. The course held the Australian Open in 2003 and 2005.

In addition to its conducive natural contours, the site is blessed with ever-present wind of some direction and strength, and this enhances its attributes. Planning has arranged that no particular direction is especially helpful, it is always a factor.

The course was designed by five time British Open Champion, Peter Thompson.

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web.com Tour Q School – Second Stage – Texas, USA

Nick’s success at the first stage of the web.com qualifying school earned him a spot in the second stage tournament in Texas, one of five being held around the USA between the 7th and 10th November. The tournament was held at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.

Nick was one of three amateurs playing in the field of 73 – the top 20 including ties would go through to the final round which meant they would earn full or some playing rights on the web.com Tour. The balance of the field was made up of professional players trying to earn their playing cards back.

Nick had rounds of 71, 74, 68 and 72 to finish at three under and tied for 23rd. Unfortunately he missed the cut by two shots so did not progress through to the final stage.

In Nick’s own words…

Qualifying school is very difficult. The do or die nature of the event is not for the faint hearted, it requires your utmost effort and execution while under the pump! This particular Q school carried quite the consequence – play well and you secure an American visa, play average and you pack your bags and move back to New Zealand. A fair bit was on the line!

I approached the event like I do every other event – prepare diligently, formulate my game plan and take care of business off the course so that I can unleash when competing on the course. I understand that this game takes you on a roller coaster of results and emotions – the best thing that I can do for myself is to take care of everything I can control; my attitude, my effort, my body and my perspective. I know that when I do this, good things will come my way, maybe not immediately, but they will eventually.

My golf was a little on the sloppy side. I wasn’t executing as sharply as I would have liked; both my with trajectory control and with my mental processes. Physically, I felt fine. My body was ready to rock and roll and I had a decent feeling with my swing. Mentally, I felt drained and fatigued. I wasn’t as sharp and confident with my decision making and therefore I simply hit the wrong shot at the wrong time. Little subtleties of the game; the wind direction, slope around the ball and the temperature are all taken into consideration when deciding what shot to hit. Being a little innacurate or sloppy in this decision making caused me to hit a few shots that I wish I could have taken back. It’s not about how many birdies you make, its about how many mistakes you don’t make. It’s a costly lesson to learn but I think that my months of travel, competitive golf and constant grinding leading into the event took it’s toll. When I needed to be a mental giant, I was simply burned out.

I finished the event at 3 under par, 2 shots shy of the top 20 mark that would have secured me membership on the web.com tour. It’s a tough pill to swallow but I will be better off for it. I know it and I’ll be back.

The silver lining with all of this is that I now have clarity in what the next four months are going to look like. There were so many options and opportunities beforehand that it was almost blinding. Things are a lot simpler now.

The next event for me is the final stage of qualifying for the Australasian Tour, I will be competing as a professional. I have three guaranteed starts in New Zealand – the NZ Masters, NZ PGA and NZ Open and this will fit into a schedule with the Australasian circuit. My management company are working on opportunites to compete on the Challenge and European Tours, with which they are very optimistic about securing playing opportunites. My next shot at the USA will take place in April when I will go to the Canadian qualifying school which is a feeding tour to the web.com Tour. A successful week there will see me moving back to Iowa and competing in the summer events up in Canada.

I’m about to turn a chapter in my life; transitioning from the amateur ranks into the professional ones. For me, nothing is going to change. Turning professional is not a destination or final goal, it is simply a platform for me to continue working towards my dream and developing as a person. If anything, Ill be kicked back to the bottom of the ranks and forced to move my way up in the professional universe. That very propostion is exciting and exhilirating. I have a fantastic chance to do wonderful things with this game and I have every bit of determination to do just that.

Thanks again to everybody who has supported me along the way. I’ve been riding the golf roller coaster for quite some time now so it’s time to take the training wheels off and see just how far we can go.

Key dates….

19th to 22nd December 2017 – Final Stage Qualifying School – Australasian PGA Tour. Moonah Links, Melbourne, Australia

11th to 14th January 2018 – NZ Masters – Wainui Golf Club, Auckland, New Zealand

22nd to 25th February 2018 – NZPGA Championships – Manawatu Golf Club, Palmerston North, New Zealand

1st to 4th March 2018 – NZ Open – The Hills, Queenstown, New Zealand

12th to 16th March 2018 – The Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament – Carlton Oaks, California, USA

TPC Craig Ranch

TPC Craig Ranch continues to redefine the private golf club experience in Texas. TPC Craig Ranch is located in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas, named “Best Place to Live in America” by Money Magazine (Sept. 2014), on 233 acres of breathtaking countryside within the gated wellness and lifestyle community of Craig Ranch. TPC Craig Ranch features an award-winning championship golf course with an array of premium amenities with the personalized service and privileges that have become synonymous with the PGA TOUR’s acclaimed TPC Network of clubs.

At TPC Craig Ranch, remarkable golf is just the beginning of an outstanding PGA TOUR experience. Since opening in 2004, the golf course at TPC Craig Ranch has received multiple accolades including being named one of the 10 best golf courses in Texas by Golf Digest in 2011.  TPC Craig Ranch is also one of only two golf courses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System. The par-72, 7,438-yard Tom Weiskopf-designed layout is a superb test of golf with stunning views of rolling hills and Rowlett Creek.

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Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championship – Wellington, NZ

 

Nick welcoming his fellow competitors to Wellington

The Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championship is an elite annual golf tournament held at various locations in the Asia Pacfic.  The 2017 tournament was played in Nick’s home country of New Zealand 🇳🇿 .  The Royal Wellington Golf Club just outside New Zealand’s capital city Wellington hosted the event.  This Championship is the biggest and most prestigious golf tournament to be staged in New Zealand.  The tournament is organized by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) in conjunction with the Masters Tournament and The R&A, organisers of The Open Championship.

The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was created in February 2009 as a joint initiative to develop the game by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. An invitation to play in the Masters Tournament and The Open is given to the winner, while the runner(s)-up gain a place in The Open Qualifying Series for The Open.

The 120-player field is annually comprised of the top male amateurs in the Asia-Pacific region representing the 41 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member organisations.

Korean Han Chang-won triumphed at the inaugural event in China in 2009, before Hideki Matsuyama won in his native Japan in 2010 and successfully defended his title in Singapore the following year.

At 14 years old, Guan Tianlang of China won the fourth edition of the event in 2012, while Lee Chang-woo from South Korea claimed the title the next year in China.

Australian Antonio Murdaca became the next champion in 2014 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

In 2015, Chinese No. 1-ranked amateur golfer Jin Cheng fired a course-record eight-under 62 en route to winning the AAC at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in Hong Kong.

Australia’s Curtis Luck, then the world’s second-ranked amateur, overcame a seven-stroke deficit to secure a one-shot victory over compatriot Brett Coletta at the eighth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship held at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea.

IMG_7913.jpgIMG_7967.jpgThe Masters Trophy – The Asia Pacific Amateur Trophy – The Claret Jug (British Open)

2017 Format

72-holes, stroke play. A cut takes place after 36 holes for the leading 60 players plus ties. In the event of a tie after 72 holes, the winner is decided by a sudden-death playoff.

The champion receives the following:

An invitation to compete in the 2018 Masters Tournament.

Direct entry into The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018, conducted by The R&A.

The runner(s)-up receive the following:

A place in The Open Qualifying Series with the opportunity to qualify for The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 2018.

This is the fourth time Nick has represented New Zealand in this tournament with the first being back in 2013 in Korea.  With Nick’s near future plans to transition into the professional ranks, it is only fitting that he wore the silver fern for the final time at home.  Because New Zealand are the host nation they get to field a team of ten players.  Nick is the top ranked New Zealand amateur in the team with a world amateur golf ranking of 44 at the time of the tournament.

Nick had the honour of giving the welcome speech to his fellow competitors as well as delivering the pledge of fair play.  The welcome reception was memorable for the Royal New Zealand Defence Force Black Falcons doing a fly over the course followed by a rousing traditional Maori welcome.

The tournament started well for Nick as he shot a 4 under 67 on day one.  On day two he shot a one over 72.  Day three started really well with four birdies and a bogey on the front nine.  He was six under at the turn but an uncharacteristic back nine saw him card five bogeys so he finished the day at two over.  The last day saw a much more relaxed Nick and his two under 69 meant he finished the tournament in a tie for 10th at 3 under.  This was his best finish at the Asia Pacific Amateur tournament after finishing 33rd in 2013, 19th in 2015 and 11th in 2016.

The winner was Yuxin Lin from China who finished with a birdie and an eagle to have a score of 14 under for the tournament.  He was three shots clear of his fellow countryman Andy Zhang.

In Nick’s own words…..

The Asia Pacific Amateur Championship is a very special event for a number of reasons.  The mission of the tournament is to grow the game of golf in our region (the Asia Pacific region). It does this by providing elite amateurs with an opportunity to compete at the highest possible level of competition while also providing the region with the resources and spotlight it needs to truly promote the game.

I was extremely fortunate to be a part of the championship proceedings this year and as such I was exposed to a side of the tournament that I had not seen before.  I witnessed three of the most highly influential organizations in our sport come together for the greater good of growing the game.  The amount of time, effort and resources allocated to this event is like nothing I have ever seen before.  The ethos of the tournament echos my favorite Greek proverb “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.”  I believe that we will look back on this championship in a few decades and only then will we be able to truly understand and appreciate the impact that it has on the game of golf.

I was honored to carry around the ‘New Zealand favorite’ tag for the week.  It truly was a humbling experience but one in which I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.  The amount of media attention and spotlight placed on me was like nothing I had previously experienced.  I spoke with Frank Nobilo at Saturday’s gala event about the position that I had found myself in – playing a championship of this caliber as the home-town favorite in my home country.  That is big time.  I am grateful for all the support I received throughout the week and all the opportunites I was given but unfortunately it became a bit of a mental grind.  The on going interviews, press conferences, live TV sets, radio station sets and ‘picture-posing’ were all fantastic, but they were mentally draining and expended energy for an already marathon like week. Heading into the event, I knew that my performance on the golf course would be directly related to how I handled all the pressures off the golf course and in the end I was very proud of how I handled it all. Experiences like these get logged into our bank of life experiences and I know I will be better off for it.

This event will probably be the last time I get to represent New Zealand at the amateur level but I hope to continue to fly the NZ flag high as I transition into the professional ranks.  I was fortunate enough to wear the silver fern on my chest on numerous occassions and I will always cherish each and every one of them.  I would like to thank everybody who has supported me along the way, bringing you all on the journey with me is just as much fun for me as it is living it myself.  I will always remember all the love and support that I have received on my journey this far and I thank you all very much!

AAC Golf Website – 25 October 2017

HOSTS UNITED: “A NEW ZEALAND VICTORY WOULD BE HUGE FOR GOLF IN THIS COUNTRY”

New Zealand’s leading players have emphasized how important it would be for the country’s golf development if one of the host’s 10-strong team could win this week’s ninth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Wellington Golf Club.

Players from Australia, China, Korea and Japan have each claimed the trophy twice in the first eight years of the AAC and the New Zealand team believe hosting the championship for the first time has provided a golden opportunity for one of their own to lift the trophy.

Nick Voke, the country’s top-ranked player at 44 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), is looking to better his 11th-place finish in Korea last year, having tied for 19th in 2015 and finished 33rd in 2013.

“I think everyone can understand the magnitude of this event,” said the 23-year-old Voke, who graduated from Iowa State University this year.

“I think the mission of this championship is to improve grassroots golf and I think a New Zealand victory this week would be huge for the foundation of golf in this country. That’s why we’re here competing this week and why we’ll be putting our best foot forward.”

Hillier, the country’s second-ranked amateur, has been touted as one of the host’s top hopes due to his excellent form over the past two years and his membership of Royal Wellington, where he practices regularly. This week’s champion will earn spots in the 2018 Masters Tournament and, for the first time, The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

“With this being in New Zealand, it’s a huge opportunity for New Zealand Golf and us amateur golfers to really put our names out there and try our best to win a pretty major prize. It’s going to be an awesome week and we are all looking forward to it,” said the 19-year-old who tied for 15th on his debut in Korea last year.

Left-handed Luke Brown, the country’s fourth-ranked amateur, said all 10 New Zealand players would be supporting each other. As much as each player wants to win, there’s an overriding desire for a local to lift the trophy.

“We’re not just doing it for ourselves,” said the 22-year-old Brown, who finished 21st last year. “We’re doing it for our country, families and friends. They’re always behind us and there’s a lot of support. If one of us Kiwis could win, it doesn’t matter who it is, we’ll be out there supporting them.”

Ryan Chisnall, New Zealand’s third-ranked amateur, conceded that the Australian players start as favorites, especially as the team features four of the championship’s top five ranked players. Chisnall was also part of the team who played a friendly match against Australia at Royal Wellington in early September.

“Obviously there’s a lot of buzz around this event. It’s massive for our country and we’re pretty proud to have everyone here in New Zealand,” said Chisnall who’s playing the AAC for a third straight year.

“We play a lot with the Aussies, so we’ve formed some pretty good friendships. It was pretty cool for us to spend a few days with them and see how they go about their work leading into an event and all the information they try to gather. They have twice had champions in this event, so we would prefer it to be one of us this week!”

India’s Rayhan Thomas and US-based ‘Kevin’ Yu Chun-an of Chinese Taipei are among highly ranked players from countries yet to win the AAC, and Voke said a champion from outside the ‘big four’ would be special.

“A few countries have dominated this event in the past and if this championship is all about growing the game in this region, I think it would just promote that further if we do have a new champion. I think it would be pretty big,” Voke said.

“A new champion is just going to grow the game, so that’s a positive, but I’m obviously biased so I hope one of these boys beside me or myself can come up with the goods.”

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IMG_8005.jpgIMG_8004.jpgNick had his long time friend, Shiv Sabherwal, caddy for him for the week

img_4399IMG_8007.jpgPre tournament photo shoot – Kevin Yu-Chun (Chinese Tapei), Nick Voke and Rayhan Thomas (India) overlooking Wellington City, NZ

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Video – AAC Golf Feature – Nick Looks Ahead

Photos – AAC Golf – Photos from the Welcome Ceremony

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NZ Golf Website – 25 October 2017

GO TIME AT THE ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP

The time has come for 10 New Zealand amateurs to compete for their ticket to both The Masters and The Open at the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship starting tomorrow.

Hosted by the Royal Wellington Golf Club, 116 players will go head-to-head for the biggest prize in amateur golf with the chance to create history.

NEW ZEALAND TEAM – Nick Voke, Daniel Hillier, Ryan Chisnall, James Anstiss, Luke Brown, Denzel Ieremia, Mark Hutson, Kerry Mountcastle, Henry Spring and Charlie Hillier. All the players arrived in the capital to simply stunning weather and are ready to get things underway. After months of rain, the weather gods have shone on Upper Hutt this week and helped the course be at its very best for our guests from around the globe.

Nick Voke, who is our number ranked amateur proved why with his recent win at the Web.com qualifying series in Nebraska City two weeks ago. Voke finished with a final round 65 to win by one shot.

“It’s clear that everyone understands the magnitude of this event, I think the mission of this tournament is to improve grass roots golf,” said Voke.

This is the Aucklanders fourth year at this event and feels now is his time.

“If there was a New Zealand champion here this week it would be huge and that’s why we are here and we will put our best foot forward.”

The opening ceremony is set to light up the week with The Royal New Zealand Defence Force Black Falcons flying over the course at 5:30pm on Wednesday along with the traditional New Zealand welcome for the 120 golfers and many staff.

Broadcast to over 160 countries worldwide, Asian Tour Media will produce a high-definition broadcast, which includes three hours of live coverage each day. A 30-minute highlight show will also be created after the conclusion of the event, all of which makes the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship the most televised amateur golf tournament in the world.

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NZ Golf Website – 26 October 2017

VOKE LEADING KIWI AS AUSSIE GOES LOW

Australia’s Shae Wools-Cobb has dominated the opening day of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship with an opening round of eight-under (63) to hold a four-shot advantage over leading Kiwi, Nick Voke.

On a picture perfect day at Royal Wellington Golf Club, Wools-Cobb took full advantage carding seven birdies and one eagle, which included a record breaking front nine of 29.

This made things challenging for the number one ranked New Zealand amateur to keep up as Voke carded a flawless round of four birdies and zero bogies to start his campaign in tied fourth alongside Sean Maruyama (JPN), Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) and Min Woo Lee (AUS).

“It was solid. If you’d said I’d shoot four-under at the start of the day I’d certainly take it. In round one you can go backwards and it’s quite hard to stay at the top,” said Voke.

The confident Kiwi seems in control of not only his game, but mentally as well.

“Confidence comes and goes and if you’re confident in your processes and how you approach the game the outcome will take care of itself. Even though I shot 67 I was happy with what I did and what I could control. If I do that every day I’ll be happy.”

NEW ZEALAND TEAM SCORES after day one:

Nick Voke -4

Kerry Mountcastle -2

James Anstiss -1

Daniel Hillier -1

Mark Hutson +3

Charlie Hillier +3

Ryan Chisnall +4

Denzel Ieremia +5

Luke Brown +6

Henry Spring +7

(leader -8)

Wellington’s very own Kerry Mountcastle was the next best with a very impressive round of two-under par. His round included five birdies but he matched that with three bogeys to slow him down.

“It’s an awesome feeling and even better to see my name up there on these huge scoreboards,” said Mountcastle.  “I can actually read my name on these ones.”

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IMG_3316IMG_3329IMG_3333IMG_8003.jpgIMG_8010.jpgNick & Shiv share a moment while Sir Bob Charles (far right) looks on

NZ Golf Website – 27 October 2017

AUSTRALIA LEAD BUT KIWIS IN TOUCH

Australia’s Min Woo Lee has stormed home finishing birdie, birdie, eagle to ensure Australia remain at the top of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship leaderboard after two rounds at Royal Wellington Golf Club.

Finishing a remarkable four-under through his last three holes saw Lee jump from tied fourth to now hold the outright lead, which was held by his roommate Shae Wools-Cobb overnight before he went three-over par today.

To excite local supporters, there is now two New Zealanders inside the top five with Wellington’s very own Kerry Mountcastle joining Nick Voke at three-under for the tournament.

In challenging afternoon conditions, Voke toiled throughout his round before back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16 saw the lead Kiwi lose ground to shoot one-over. After recently winning on the Web.com qualifying series, it’s clear Voke knows that winning feeling and is still right in contention.

Mountcastle continued his impressive form to also be within striking distance heading into the weekend. After taking six weeks off work as an electrician to prepare for this event, he shot a second round of one-under par in front of friends and family.

“To have a group from Masterton come down today and join me was just awesome. It’s great having the support there,” said Mountcastle.

“It also helps knowing the course to know what the wind’s actually doing and what the best spots are to hit it in the wind, especially yesterday afternoon.”

Just one shot back from his fellow Kiwis is Queenstown’s James Anstiss who has gone under the radar this week. After returning from University in America for this event, his calm demeanour will have him in good stead ahead of moving day.

Northland’s Luke Brown started the day on the cutline of six-over before carding the lowest round of the New Zealanders today signing for a three-under total.

Sadly, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is now over for debutants Denzel Ieremia and Henry Spring who will leave Royal Wellington Golf Club with a wealth of experience.

IMG_3337IMG_3343IMG_3346IMG_3357IMG_3358img_4392IMG_3381Nick and his coach from Iowa State University, Andrew Tank who came down from the USA to watch a couple of days of the tournament

NZ Golf Website – 28 October 2017

MOUNTCASTLE A CHANCE FOR THE MASTERS & OPEN

China’s Yuxin Lin has claimed the lead at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to enjoy a one-shot advantage at eight-under par, while Masterton’s Kerry Mountcastle is just four shots behind entering the final round tomorrow.

A chance to play in the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship is just 18 holes away for one lucky player and Mountcastle who finished one-under today (70) will be hoping for all the luck he can get to make up the achievable deficit at Royal Wellington Golf Club.

It was a rollercoaster day for all New Zealand players in benign Wellington conditions, but it was Mountcastle’s chip in eagle, followed by a tap in birdie which raised anticipation around the club.

“It all just fell into place on 14 and I hit a nice chip which dropped in for eagle. Then on 15 I had a terrible lie, but luckily I chunked it up there and it ran out to just a foot away,” said an overly calm Mountcastle.

The moment doesn’t seem too big for the full-time sparkie who has taken six weeks off work to focus on focus on golf.

“It was a good day and I’m enjoying the occasion, but to then realise I was right up there was awesome, so I will go for it and see where I can get tomorrow.”

New Zealand’s leading amateur Nick Voke pulled the largest galleries of the day as he made his way to six-under for the tournament with four front nine birdies including a chip in to be just one shot behind at the turn.

The dream of a local winner was becoming a reality before he had an afternoon to forget making five back nine bogies for card a two-over (73) and bail out of contention.

With a tournament score of one-under he now joins a huddle of Kiwis with James Anstiss also in a tie for 11th and Daniel Hillier one better at two-under.

Hillier was turning heads early after making four birdies in his opening four holes, but couldn’t continue this hot streak, finishing with a three-under (68) to be in a tie for ninth.

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NZ Golf Website – 29 October 2017

AMAZING FINISH EARNS YUXIN LIN A PLACE IN HISTORY

China’s Yuxin Lin has finished birdie, eagle to win the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in style at Royal Wellington Golf Club this afternoon

Lin completed his week with a three-shot margin over fellow countryman Andy Zhang with rounds of 69, 67, 69 and an impressive 65 to earn an invitation to The Masters Tournament and The 147th Open Championship.

In front of thousands of local golf fans surrounding the 18th green, he completed the tournament in perfect fashion after his 5-iron from 216 yards was pin point (five feet) to then knock in his eagle putt.

“I was going to hit my four-iron, but I thought it might roll over the green. I thought I was a bit short, but it turned out pretty good,” grinned the Beijing born Lin.

“I’m very happy I got the chance to win this event and play in two Majors. I’m very proud of myself and it means a lot to be playing in the Masters and The Open next year.”

This victory draws parallels to Sir Bob Charles who achieved his first New Zealand Open win at Royal Wellington back in 1954 as a teenager and also a left hander.

Wellington’s Daniel Hillier has ended the week as leading amateur with a total of five-under par to finish in a tie for sixth. His fellow representative Kerry Mountcastle finished a week he won’t forget just one shot back of Hillier.

Although there wasn’t a Kiwi winner this afternoon, they certainly didn’t give up with notable performances from Ryan Chisnall and Charlie Hillier who both shot rounds of four-under (67).

Nick Voke was in the action for the majority of the event, both on and off the course but had a challenging weekend to finish three-under and tied tenth.

“What an incredible week, to have such a prestigious tournament here in New Zealand was incredible, not only for myself but for the team. The crowds were amazing and words cannot describe what an amazing week this has been,” said Voke.

This week has been one to remember in New Zealand Golf history with The Masters Tournament, The Open, Asia-Pacific Golf Federation and Royal Wellington Golf Club all playing a vital part in the success and exposure it has created for golf in this country.

IMG_3429IMG_3447IMG_3452Nick and his teammate, James Anstiss, who he played in the final round with

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AAC Website – 29 October 2017

LIN YUXIN EAGLES 18, SHOOTS 65 TO WIN ASIA-PACIFIC AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP

China’s Lin Yuxin, 17, won the ninth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship on Sunday at Royal Wellington Golf Club to secure spots in the 2018 Masters Tournament and The 147th Open at Carnoustie. In front of large crowds, the left-hander birdied the 17th hole and eagled 18 to card a six-under-par 65 and finish 14-under, three ahead of compatriot Andy Zhang (67), who was rewarded with a place in The Open Qualifying Series.

Yuan Yechun (68) and Australia’s Min Woo Lee (71) – younger brother of LPGA star Minjee Lee – shared third place at seven-under, one ahead of 2015 champion Jin Cheng (65), also of China.

The Beijing-based Lin, who turned 17 on October 12, is the third Chinese player to win the championship following victories by Guan Tianlang in 2012, aged 14, and Jin, who was 17 when he won.

“I’m very, very happy I got the chance to win this event and play two majors,” said Lin, who trailed Zhang for much of the round. “I’m very proud of myself. It means a lot to me to play in the Masters and The Open next year. It’s a great experience.”

“Andy played really solid today,” Lin said. “He didn’t make a single mistake until 15. His iron shots were really good and he made a lot of putts. I actually thought it might not be my day, but I had a good finish.

“I was just trying to stay aggressive and hit as many drivers as I could. Even though I wasn’t playing that well for 12 holes, I still stuck with that plan. Andy is a very steady player, but I had to stay aggressive and get birdies.”

Lin started the day at eight-under, one ahead of playing partners Lee and Zhang, China’s top-ranked amateur. And it was Zhang, the 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Florida, who quickly took control with birdies at one and three to take the lead, which he held for much of the round.

Both Zhang and Lin birdied the par-five fourth, and the two Beijing-born Chinese players also birdied six to move to 11-under and 10-under, respectively. Lin birdied eight but from the 10th went bogey-birdie-bogey to stay one behind after 12 holes.

Zhang doubled his lead with a birdie at 13, but Lin bounced back with a crucial birdie at the next hole. When Zhang bogeyed 15, the pair drew even at 11-under and remained level with two holes to play. That’s when Lin’s power game and self-confidence came into play.

The solidly built teen drove the green at the 361-yard, par-four 17th to set up a tap-in birdie. On the par-five 18th, he smashed his drive down the middle of the fairway then watched as his stunning five-iron from 216 yards landed just six feet from the flag, holing the putt for an eagle three and punching the air in victory.

“I was definitely trying to drive it on the green at 17 and put some pressure on Andy,” Lin said. “I hit a really good drive pin high so I was pretty satisfied.

“On 18, I was going to hit a four-iron because it was a bit into the wind, but then I thought it might roll over the green, so I hit a five. I thought it was a bit short but it turned out that it was pretty good.”

Zhang, who competed in the U.S. Open at the age of 14, was playing with Lin for the first time in competition and was full of praise for his younger compatriot.

“For Lin Yuxin to finish three-three-three and to match the course record, you can’t really argue with that,” said Zhang, who has been based in Florida since he was 10. “He played very well and I needed my best but I didn’t have my absolute best.” Zhang explained. “The next generation is coming up and China will be a big country up there.”

Two years after winning the title in Hong Kong, Jin – who played in last year’s Masters Tournament – was among Lin’s teammates congratulating the champion on the 18th green.

“He’s going to be the third amateur to represent China at Augusta National (and the first to play in The Open), and it’s going to be a great honor for our country,” said Jin. “Lin’s a really good junior golfer and as he grows up he’s getting better and better. He’s going to be a great player.”

Nick Voke, New Zealand’s top-ranked amateur, carded a 69 to finish three-under and was among four locals to finish in the top 10.

“What an absolutely incredible week, right from the start,” Voke said. “Words can’t do justice to how good it was. I was talking to Frank Nobilo last night and we were talking about playing in your home country, playing in front of all the crowds, and having such a prestigious event come here. It was incredible, not only for myself and the team, but for the country. You should have seen the crowds out there today and yesterday. Words can’t describe it.”

Royal Wellington’s Daniel Hiller was New Zealand’s top finisher, sharing sixth place at five-under with Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chun-an and Australia’s Shae Wools-Cobb. Kerry Mountcastle, also a Royal Wellington member, was alone in ninth at four-under.

img_8176The Champion – Lin Yuxin

IMG_3472The New Zealand Team – Mark Hutson, Luke Brown, James Anstiss, Charlie Hillier, Henry Spring, Kerry Mountcastle, Nick Voke, Ryan Chisnall, Daniel Hillier and Denzel Ieremia

img_8177The Kiwi boys had a bit of fun on day three pretending to play cricket and catch Min Woo Lee from Australia out : )

Video – 2017 Recap – Asia Pacific Amateur Championship

Royal Wellington Golf Club

The club was first established in 1895 at Miramar, until it experienced difficulties in renewing its lease in 1904. The Barton family of Trentham and Wairarapa owned extensive land in the Heretaunga area in the Upper Hutt Valley and offered to sell the club 48.5 hectares of their estate.  This offer was accepted in a Club meeting on 20 November 1906 and subsequently much of the land was cleared and marshes drained to construct the rudimentary course. Some club members donated trees and shrubs in these early years.

By 1908 the club had completed its moved to Heretaunga and an 18-hole course had been completed along with a tennis court, croquet and putting green. It’s historic and elegant clubhouse was designed by architects Crichton and MacKay. The club was opened in a ceremony on 25 April 1908, by Joseph Ward, Prime Minister and president of the club. The course was expanded from 18 to 27 holes in 1972-73. The present championship course was redesigned by Greg Turner and Scott Macpherson and opened in 2013. There is also a nine-hole Terrace course, which takes in some of the most scenic parts of the club’s property.

Seven New Zealand Opens have been held at Heretaunga, the first in 1912, followed by 1932, 1954, 1976, 1981, 1987 and most recently in 1995, when Australian Lucas Parsons was the winner of the sixth and last open held at the club. In 2004, to commemorate the 250th year of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth consented on 10 June 2004 that the club should be known as Royal Wellington Golf Club. This was a culmination of a century or more of sustained contact with other like-minded clubs in many parts of the world. Throughout its history, the club has stayed close to the traditions established during its foundation but also aimed to be progressive and responsive to the way the game of golf changes.

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web.com Tour Q School – First Stage – Nebraska, USA

The transition from the amateur ranks to the professional ranks has begun.  Nick played in the first stage of qualifying for the web.com tour between the 3rd and 6th October.  He has gone back to school – Q school that is : )

Nick’s goal is to earn his playing card for the web.com tour which is the developmental tour for the PGA Tour – see below for some more information in relation to the web.com tour.  In simple terms to qualify for the web.com tour there are pre qualifying tournaments, first stage, second stage and then finals.    There were 12 first stage qualifying tournaments held around the USA in October, each with approximately 78 players (total 936 players).  The top 25 from each tournament go through to second stage qualifying so that is 300 players although there may be some other players from the current web.com tour and even the PGA Tour that get exemptions to play in this stage too – these are players that have lost their playing cards so have to re qualify.  There will be 5 second qualifying tournaments played around the USA in November with the top 25 from each going through to the final stage.  These 125 players then play off in December in Arizona in the finals.  If you make it into the top 25 in the finals then you will earn your web.com tour playing card which allows you to play on the web.com tour in the following year.  If you finish between 26 and 40 you are granted partial playing rights.  There is also prize money for the players finishing in the top 40.

Nick made it through first stage in style winning the 72 hole tournament by 1 shot.  He shot 16 under par with rounds of 72, 65, 66 and 65.

The tournament was played at Arbor Links which is located in the nexus between Lincoln, Omaha and Kansas City in the state of Nebraska. 

Article from Stuff.co.nz – Pro career closer for Voke

Article from NZ Golf website – Voke wins web.com First Stage Qualifying Tournament

In Nicks own words…

WHAT A WEEK – it’s always nice to see your name at the top of the leaderboard.  Regardless of whether it’s Saturday’s scramble, qualifying school or a major. Winning is winning and it must be learned at every level to succeed.

First and foremost, a huge shout out goes to my fellow Manukau Golf Club, NZ (or Windross Farm as it is now known) member, Devin Mason.  Devin is now residing in Canada and he came down to Nebraska and was on my bag for the week.  He was a fantastic guy to have on the bag.  I have known Devin for over ten years now and he made the whole week as stress-free as possible.  I can’t thank him enough for his efforts and I’m excited to have him on my bag again in the second round in Texas.

Arbor Links wasn’t necessarily the most challenging golf course but the weather that we had made it very difficult. There was wind, rain and everything in between. It was a constant battle of “is this rain hard enough to warrant a jacket or will it pass in time”? Having Devin there and staying on site made the conditions a whole lot easier to tackle!

In terms of my golf, I didn’t go into the qualifier feeling all that great with my game, I played pretty sloppy in the first round in all honesty, but I knew that I had put in some really solid work and I could feel myself progressively trusting my swing a bit more and that I was starting to swing more freely.  I replied to a text from the NZ golf coach after the first round and I implied that I was feeling good with my game even though I shot 1 over par. I knew that I was close to putting it all together and its nice to look back now and see what actually happened!

Having familiar faces around and a nice place to stay for the week added to my comfort. In a high pressure situation, I felt at ease – I was staying incredibly patient through the testing conditions and with my sloppy inital game, I was taking adversity better in my stride a lot better and laughing things off like a Sunday round. There is a golden lesson in all of this – I have to spend money to make money.  By this I mean that the extra $20 a night I paid to have a decent place to stay, a good breakfast and short commute to the course was worth every dollar. I did everything right off the golf course over the week and I felt great as a result. 

One of the more interesting observations for the week was to do with my putting – and it was one of the best putting performances I’ve ever had. My stats speak for themselves but I didn’t feel like I was trying to ‘force’ or ‘will’ the ball into the hole at all.  Quite frankly I putted better when I thought I had almost holed too many and that I was bound to miss!  Seems quite weird  but I putted better when I didnt really mind if the ball went in or not.  I just wanted to put a good stroke on it and do a good job reading it.  I was 100% inside 5 feet, 62% between 5 and 9 feet AND AN AMAZING 64% between 9 and 15 feet. All the extra work I have been doing from the 5 to 15 feet range came to fruition this week.

There was another cool moment where I was 15 under with 2 holes to play (I was also playing alongside the co-leader at the time).  I knew I was close to winning the thing and that the tournament was probably one of ours to win. For some reason, I didn’t feel nervous or scared (maybe I knew that no matter what happened I was going to qualify as the top 25 get through) and so it gave me a real killer instinct and I just wanted to unleash and put it on the line to see what happened.  The 17th tee is quite a hard shot with trouble around and I smashed a 3 wood into the fairway.  I was really proud of how assertive I swung at the ball – especially when the trouble is right with wind off the left.  I ended up playing the last 2 holes at 1 under to win by 1.  It was an awesome feeling. This is how I want to act and play when there are real consequences on the line.

It was a great week on the course but I am going to take away a bigger lesson that I learned off the course. I invested heavily into my comfort for the week and I felt like I was there to do a job and I did it. The key is to continue investing into myself even whenI’m not feeling as good.

I am back at work here in Iowa as there is always plenty to work on.  I’ve got a great opportunity over the next couple of months to show what I have when it matters most.  I am beyond excited to get back home and see everyone again! 

Next stop, Royal Wellington and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.  A shot at the Masters and The British Open. It doesn’t get much better than this. What a time to be alive!

ArborLinks

ArborLinks takes advantage of the natural features of the site. Native grasses have been used to define and separate the golf holes, which is set on the existing terrain with as little land form disturbance as possible. Bunkers and other hazards have been sculpted to create an old world look and feel. Greens and fairways are expansive, providing unequaled challenges and stimulated creative strategy, while remaining simple and natural.  

The course was built on wooded hills and old cornfields northwest of Arbor Day Farm. Each of ArborLink’s 18 holes tells a conservation story, ranging from “Black Cherry Row” for the first hole, demonstrating field windbreaks and their value, to hole 18, “Cottonwood Creek,” which illustrates the use of bioengineering in restoring and protecting the banks of South Table Creek.  See below re the sustainable approach taken to build this course.
The course is an Arnold Palmer signature design and was opened in 2002.  It was once a public course but is now a private members club although you can play the course if you stay at the Arbor Day Lodge.  

Web.com

The Web.com Tour is the developmental tour for the U.S.-based PGA Tour, and features professional golfers who have either not yet reached the PGA Tour, or who have done so but then failed to win enough FedEx Cup points to stay at that level. Those who are on the top 25 of the money list at year’s end are given PGA Tour memberships for the next season. Since the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour has been the primary pathway for those seeking to earn their PGA Tour card. Q-School, which had previously been the primary route for qualification to the PGA Tour, has been converted as an entryway to the Web.com tour.

History

Announced in early 1989 by PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, the “satellite tour” was formalized by the PGA Tour in 1990, originally named the Ben Hogan Tour, sponsored by the Ben Hogan Golf Company.  The first season of 1990 had 30 events, and the typical event purse was $100,000.  Late in the third year, Nike acquired the title sponsorship and it became the Nike Tour for seven seasons (1993–99); with another sponsorship change it then became the Buy.com Tour for three seasons (2000–02).

Naming rights for the tour were purchased by Nationwide Insurance and it was renamed the Nationwide Tour for 2003. In 2007 there were 32 events, one each in Australia, New Zealand, and Panama, with the remainder in the United States. The events in Australia and New Zealand were co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia. Canada and Mexico have hosted events since 2008, and Colombia hosted an event since 2010. Purses in 2010 ranged from $500,000 to $1 million, about one-tenth of the level on the PGA Tour.
After  9 1⁄2 seasons as the Nationwide Tour, Web.com was announced as the new title sponsor in late June 2012. Effective immediately, with a 10-year sponsorship deal, the tour’s name was changed in mid-season.

Rules and Results

All Web.com Tour tournaments operate similarly to typical PGA Tour tournaments in that they are all 72-hole stroke play events with a cut made after 36 holes. The cut on the Web.com Tour is for the top 65 players and ties, unlike 70 for the PGA Tour. The fields are usually 144 or 156 players, depending on time of year (and available daylight hours). For the aforementioned international events, the joint tour will split players spots with the Web.com Tour for proper sanctioning. As with the PGA Tour, the winner of the tournament will get a prize of 18% of the total purse.

Since this tour is a developmental tour, players are usually vying to play well enough to gain status on the PGA Tour.

In 2007 Paul Claxton became the first man to reach US$1 million in Web.com Tour career earnings.

The Web.com Tour offers Official World Golf Ranking points. The winner earns a minimum of 14 OWGR points (provided at least 54 holes are played) and 20 for the Web.com Tour Championship. Starting in 2013, the first three events of the Web.com Tour Finals award 16 OWGR points to the winner. Tournaments shortened to 36 holes are given reduced values of ten points for regular season events and the win is considered unofficial.

Changes for 2013 season and beyond

On March 20, 2012, the PGA Tour announced radical changes to the main tour’s season and qualifying process effective in 2013. Major changes to what was then known as the Nationwide Tour were also announced at that time.

The first major change was that beginning in fall 2013, the PGA Tour season started in October of the previous calendar year.  This change had several consequences for the Web.com Tour, either directly or indirectly.

Starting with the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour has a structure similar to that of the main PGA Tour, with a regular season followed by a season-ending series of tournaments. In the case of the Web.com Tour, the ending series consists of four tournaments, to be held during the main tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, called the Web.com Tour Finals. At least 150 players will be eligible to compete in the Finals—the top 75 on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, plus the players finishing between 126 and 200 on the FedEx Cup points list.  Non-members of the PGA Tour are also eligible if they would have earned enough FedEx Cup points to finish 126 to 200. In addition, PGA Tour players who have been granted medical extensions for the following season are eligible. Because some of the PGA Tour players will be exempt by other means, such as tournament wins in the previous two years, the Finals fields will not consist of all eligible players.  A total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the following season will be awarded at the end of the Finals—25 to the top regular-season money winners on the Web.com Tour, with the remaining 25 determined by total money earned during the Finals.

Those who finish in the Top 75 on the regular season money list but fail to earn PGA Tour cards retain full Web.com Tour status, along with those 26–50 on the Finals money list and those who finished 126–150 on the PGA Tour FedEx Cup standings. Conditional status is given to those who finish in the top 100 on the money list or 151–200 in the FedEx Cup.

Also, starting in 2013, the PGA Tour’s qualifying school grants playing rights only for the Web.com Tour.  The medalist is fully exempt on the Web.com Tour for the entire season. Those finishing in the top ten plus ties are exempt through the third reshuffle, or thirteen events. Players finishing 11th-45th are exempt through the second reshuffle after nine events and all remaining golfers have conditional status. One can also earn direct access to the Web.com Tour through a top-five finish on the Order of Merit on PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, or PGA Tour China. The money leader from each of those tours is fully exempt and those 2nd-5th are conditionally exempt.

Finally, the Web.com Tour now provides up to two entrants in the following year’s Players Championship. One invitation is extended to the player who tops the money list for the entire season, including the Finals. The golfer who earns the most during the Finals also receives an invitation; if the same player leads both money lists, only one invitation is given.

Partnering for Sustainable Design and Education – Arbor Links

In the late 1990’s a concept was conceived for a golf course in the state of Nebraska that would serve as an educational model for eco-sustainability and yet be affordable to build and maintain. To further that goal, a partnership was formed between the golf course builder, the golf course architect and the National Arbor Day Foundation. This team was committed to proactive environmental goals for the development of a golf course that would include:

– Conservation of wildlife habitat

– Protection and improvement of water quality of existing creeks and watersheds

– Restoration of degraded prairie

– Utilizing the course as a living classroom for education both in and out of the golf industry.

300 acres of land adjacent to the Lied Conference Center at Arbor Day Farms was made available for the new golf course. The preliminary review of the project site revealed that the existing prairie land and natural creeks that remained had been degraded by earlier farming practices. The banks of North Table Creek that runs through the property had badly eroded and water quality had also been compromised due to the heavy agronomic use of the land in previous years. Native grassland had become overgrown with a monoculture of species and wildlife habitat had become diminished.

A routing for the golf course was designed to best utilize the natural features of the site with minimal impact and movement of earth. This not only reduced the construction budget but allowed for little disturbance of the land. With a routing plan in place, the design of the course by the Palmer team decided on a natural concept that incorporated large areas for the establishment of native grasses and groves of trees. Bunkers with ragged edges were included to provide a natural and compatible appearance for the windswept prairie look of Nebraska. Water features, such as ponds with littoral shelves and created wetland hollows were added or adjusted to blend seamlessly into this natural environment.

The restoration of the indigenous prairie grasses in large out of play areas was important for enhancing wildlife habitat and also meant that little additional irrigation was required once they had been established. By incorporating these areas into the design, corridors of vegetation were created to connect habitat areas of different animal and bird species. In selected locations around the course, food plots are being incorporated to further encourage wildlife. Trees provide an important habitat for birds and with the knowledge that field breaks of trees were found around farmsteads of the Great Plains dating back to the 1930s, a tree planting program was implemented with Arbor Day Farm around the course. Varieties of native species from seedlings to large specimen trees were planted to reestablish this natural wind screen and to provide habitat. Restoring the landscape of prairie, wetland and forest created abundant habitat for wildlife and provided for more biological diversification. Utilizing Best Management Practices and an Integrated Pest Management plan that is designed to protect the environment also reflect cost efficient methods with proven results. Grass types were selected to reduce irrigation requirements and heavy maintenance practices. Estimates are that 140,000 gallons of water a day will be conserved during peak watering seasons. These grass types will be studied for their effectiveness from year to year.

The South Table Creek that runs through the site had been altered and straightened to gain more land for farming at one time. With assistance and support from the U.S. EPA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the creek has been restored to its original direction and methods were taken throughout construction to stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. To protect the water quality of the creek during construction, silt fence, detention ditches and soil erosion matting was used. At Arbor Links over forty acres of erosion matting was used to assist seed germination and prevent runoff in potential wash areas This replaced the need for sod on tee slopes, lake edges and green banks, which helped to maintain the course as a good steward of the land while keeping construction affordable. In addition, a buffer system of vegetation was implemented along the creek to filter runoff from the golf course. Some of this vegetation can be harvested periodically as biomass for energy production for the conference center.

To complement the goal of constructing a golf course that would protect and enhance the site’s natural elements, the design team and Arbor Day Farm elected to provide opportunities for education and research sharing. A variety of construction methods and techniques were employed by the golf course builder for future study. Four methods of greens mix and construction were utilized. The resulting turf characteristics, rate of growth and playing conditions of these greens are being studied and so far, no measurable differences have been detected in playability and quality of turf. The performance continues to be evaluated by the agronomic staff. A golf course pocket guide was developed to educate golfers on the conservation methods that were employed during the design and construction, as well as to provide information regarding sustainable maintenance techniques. One of the partners in this guide was the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Many companies within the golf industry contributed time, talent and materials toward the construction of this course in the knowledge that golf courses can be good stewards of the land with the proper information and guidance.

Arbor Links Golf Course was designed, built and is maintained to meet the initial environmental vision of the partnership. The course has hosted a summit with leaders from the golf industry and the environmental community. It continues to be recognized as a national environmental model and is an educational resource for the community, as well as golfers.

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Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup – Japan

Nick got an exemption from New Zealand Golf to play in the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup which is a Japanese Professional Tour event.  This year’s tournament was played between the 21st and 24th September at the Caledonian Golf Club in Chiba which is about two hours from Tokyo.  This tournament has been played annually since 1973 and was sanctioned as an Asian Tour Event in 2014.  The prize pool was JPY150,000,000 or about USD1.37 million.  The winner would earn UDS269,000.  As an amateur, Nick would not be partaking in the spoils but gaining valuable experience and exposure.

Nick felt very privileged to be given this opportunity to tee it up against the professionals and experience an event in a unique country like Japan.  He had a couple of practice rounds prior to the event and was in awe of some the professionals that were playing in the event – guys he had been following since he was a youngster.  Unfortunately he just came up short missing the cut line by one shot shooting rounds of 72 and 73.  The cut line was even par and Nick finished the thirty six holes at one over.

The winner of the tournament was Daisuke Kataoka from Japan who shot 12 under over the four rounds.  There was only one amateur that made the cut with Nick and another amateur from Japan being the next best equal amateur contenders.  NZ’s own professional, Michael Hendry also played in the event finishing in a tie for 19th which earnt him a tidy USD11,456.

In Nick’s own words…….

The Diamond Cup is an event on the Japanese Tour which boasts a purse of about US $1.4 million (the winner gets a cheque for USD269,000) – not a bad pay cheque for a weeks work.  Past European Tour superstars were present – Jeev Milkah Singh, Leang WenChong and Jbe Kruger, among many more. I was fortunate enough to get an exemption into the field from New Zealand Golf, they thought I was a prime candidate for the experience with my upcoming schedule as I transition into the professional ranks.

The whole experience in Japan was amazing. The people were friendly and welcoming, the location (Narita which is about two hours from Tokyo) was clean and green and the event was organised superbly. The golf course was your typical Asian resort layout – short, tight and tough off the tee. The rough was as high as my ankles and the greens shaped around the natural contours. 

I played okay for the event. It was one of those events were I would have stretches of good golf and then unfortunately leak a few too many shots in other stretches. I have been playing with the mindset to ‘find my best for the day’; whether I shoot 4 over or 4 under isn’t as important as me shooting the best score I can possibly shoot given my game for the day.  My putting was rock solid but unfortnately I didnt have the grestest couple of days with my ball striking.  Having said that, I fought as hard as I could and gave it my very best effort.  For that, I can walk around with my head held high.

I came down the last hole at 2 over par thinking that a birdie could sneak me inside the cut-line. After hitting my approach shot into the par 5 to about 53 feet and then lagging my 3rd shot down to the hole, I was left with a ticklish little 4 foot slider for my birdie.  I was incredibly pleased to put a real good stroke on it and hole the putt thinking that the birdie could sneak me in.  Unfortunately, my score of one over was one shot short of making the cut.  Even though I had missed the cut, I knew my game was good enough to contend and that I am ready to be out there for real. 

I spent the next two days touring around Tokyo and watching the leading groups compete for the trophy.  It was a slightly bitter debut on the Japenese Tour but I know that I will be better off for the experience and that I will be back! 

Next stop for me is Q-school in Nebraksa for the web.com tour.  I am excited to get back to work and give myself the best opportunity I can to play well. Exciting times ahead!!

Caledonian Golf Club

This J. Michael Poellot design is set amongst rolling hills and natural woodland in the Sanbu district of the Chiba prefecture.  Plenty of stylish “rivers of sand” bunkers adorn the layout, with five ponds also threatening on seven or eight holes.  The far end of the course away from the clubhouse is criss-crossed by towering pylons and their associated power lines.  It is a private golf club although they allow a limited number of non members to play.

J. Michael Poellot is a renowned American golf course designer, whose designs can be found in the USA, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, the Carribean, France and across Asia.

The course was established in 1990 and is 7,021 yards long off the back tees and has a par of 72.

Playing the Tourist photos……….

Toilet instructions 😂😂

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