Golf professionals from throughout Australia and New Zealand are making a beeline for the backblocks of North Otago.
The Tokarahi Golf Club, 40km inland from Oamaru, is hosting a leg of the Legends Pro-Am tournament for the third time on February 11.
Club president and greenkeeper Marty McCone said the Legends Tour was for male professional golfers over the age of 50. Each professional teams up with three local amateurs. There are 39 professionals this time and enough amateurs to make up 29 teams. That leaves 10 of the pros to go it alone.
A lot of work has been put in, Mr McCone said.
“The course is as good as I’ve ever had it.”
His skills were acknowledged with the 2012 award for best-groomed golf course in Otago and Southland.
He said he was constantly learning more about greenkeeping, which he fits around his work as a farmer.
Mr McCone will be on course at 6am on tournament day to give it a final mow and cut the greens.
Some of the pros, who were keen to return this year, would probably play a 9-hole “scramble” the day before, he said.
It was a mission for the club to come up with the $11,000 prize purse. Mr McCone gives the credit to committee member Barry Matthews, who “knows everyone in New Zealand”.
Richard Watson has organised the professionals’ attendance, Graham Johnson put the teams together, Murray Simpson is the “fix-it man”, and Jacqui Watson is in charge of catering.
Play starts at 8am. Spectators are welcome.
The Tokarahi Golf Club will celebrate its 50th jubilee on March 17 and 18. Tours of the course will be given on the Friday. Golf and a dinner will be held on the Saturday.