Tournament to bring in elite golfers

New Zealand Golf's Phil Aickin (left) with club captain Terry Kingsbury (centre) and greenkeeper Ben Crequer at the Ashburton Golf Club this week.

Ashburton Golf Club was looking postcard perfect when top national golf administrator Phil Aickin dropped in for a look this week.

He was meeting club personnel who will be involved when Ashburton hosts the New Zealand men’s interprovincials from November 30 until December 4.

The big tournament will feature 15 teams of elite golfers from around the country – with handicaps ranging from 4 to plus 6.

Phil said the championships were a chance for Mid Canterbury people to see some of the best amateur golfers in the country, including those about to turn pro.

Players like Michael Campbell, Greg Turner, Danny Lee and Ryan Fox have all featured in the past.

A player to keep an eye on this year is Christchurch teen sensation Kazuma Kobori, who was part of the Canterbury team that won the tournament in 2020.

Mid Canterbury’s best players will be part of the Aorangi team.

Phil said it was likely Ashburton would also be visited by top players in the lead-up to the tournament, so they could get an early feel for the course.

This week he was checking in with Ashburton greenkeeper Ben Crequer, club captain Terry Kingsbury and other club officials who will be part of the volunteer army to support the tournament.

NZ Golf brings its own event crew and relies on volunteers for extras. The tournament generates a lot of website traffic and has live scoring.

Phil said golf could still be played in covid restrictions and the game had enjoyed a boost in numbers during the pandemic.

The weather was harder to control.

Phil is the handicapping and golf services manager for New Zealand Golf and part of that role is managing the course layout at competitions.

He said said while greenkeepers usually upped their mowing preceding major tournaments, it was putting surfaces that players remembered.

He was confident Ashburton’s would be in excellent condition for the tournament.

It was not his first visit to the Ashburton course, which has previously hosted a New Zealand seniors and women’s interprovincial tournaments.

Phil competed as an elite amateur. He represented New Zealand on and off between 1979 and 1990, including three Eisenhower Trophy world amateur team events, and was a member of the Auckland team who won the Freyberg men’s national interprovincial at Poverty Bay in 1981.