Kiwis on Fire

Destination golf courses for national tournaments & Kiwis on fire!

Martinborough is the latest golf club announced by PaR nz Golfing Holidays, under the auspices of New Zealand Golf, as a venue for a popular long-standing golf tournament for women. This follows a trend for courses to be located in warm tourist spots that allow players the chance to visit and see other local attractions while competing in a national event.  Martinborough is such an area. 

As one of New Zealand’s top wine regions, Martinborough attracts tourists and visitors year-round. As part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, Wairarapa’s Martinborough boasts 30 local wineries with Pinot Noir being the signature drop.  Wine is not the only attraction, however, with nature and bird lovers drawn to nearby Pukaha Mount Bruce Sanctuary, where rare kiwi, takahe, tuatara, New Zealand eels and other wildlife is found within a 940-hectare reserve. 

Peter Jackson filmed Paths of the Dead scenes for the 'Lord of The Rings' trilogy at nearby Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve. This area was formed seven million years ago when the nearby Aorangi range was an island.  The mountains eroded over time and washed down to the coast where large sedimentary layers were formed, and with more time an amazing collection of ‘hoodoos' developed – an ideal backdrop for Jackson's films. 

Women golfers will be heading to Martinborough primarily for the golf, and in particular the 80th New Zealand Women’s Autumn Foursomes. Scheduled to be hosted at the Martinborough Golf Club on March 22-24 next year, this annual tournament is popular with local Kiwi players as well as entrants from Australia, Fiji, and New Caledonia. 

The 2016 Autumn Foursomes will be the second time the Martinborough Golf Club, which celebrated its centenary in 2008, has hosted a national event. It successfully hosted the 2009 New Zealand Women’s Senior Match Play Championships.    

The club, hosts an annual ‘Lefties & Righties’ tournament, and its attractive, oak-tree-lined course presents a good test for players of all abilities, albeit on a relatively flat layout. The greens are short, but testing, and players are treated to the enjoyment of looking out over many of the nearby vineyards as they play. 

The New Zealand Women’s Autumn Foursomes includes three days of foursomes handicap matchplay in a random 64 pair draw. First-round losers compete for the NZLGU salver, while the first-round winners competing for the NZ Autumn Foursomes Cup. With multiple flights and plates, all players are guaranteed at least five rounds of match play in fun, foursomes competition. 

The announcement of this venue follows PaR nz Golfing Holidays' schedule of New Zealand Golf tournaments in popular tourist venues, including the 2015 New Zealand Mixed Foursomes in Wanaka, a tourist magnet in the South Island’s Fiordland, and the 2016 New Zealand Men’s & Women’s Mid Amateur at the beach resort of Mangawhai, an hour north of Auckland.  Another South Island beauty, Te Anau, will host the 2016 New Zealand Women’s Senior Match Play in February, giving visitors the chance to stay on and visit Milford Sound or to try one of the many big-billing walking tracks, such as Kepler or Milford. 

With New Zealand now topping three million visitor arrivals in the year to July 2015, an increase of more than seven per cent compared with the previous corresponding 12 months, club organisers are hopeful that many golfers will also take the opportunity to play some golf in one of these national tournaments while they visit.  They certainly will be hosted in some of New Zealand’s top beauty spots! 

Kiwis on fire

New Zealand professionals Lydia Ko, Ryan Fox and Danny Lee are continuing their great season. 

In a dramatic playoff, our favourite golfing daughter, Lydia Ko has won her 8th title out of 60 starts, with a win at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, a tournament she has won twice before. 

In a day that arguably should have belonged to the American Stacey Lewis, who shot a 5-under par round to force the play-off, Ko held her nerve with a par in the first play off hole. Lewis had earlier missed the green with her second, after a wayward tee shot saw her off the fairway in the cruel rough, needing a miraculous shot to make the green.  She finished with a bogey 5. 

Ko’s final round was her worst in the 72-hole Open, even par.  Her earlier rounds of 67, 68 and 69, gave her a joint lead position at the start of the final round.  Candie Kung who started with Ko in a share for the lead, fell off the pace with a final round of 74, to finish T5.  Ko remains the second best women player on the world rankings, only 878 points behind Korea’s Inbee Park.  

Danny Lee now sits in 10th position on the FedEx Rankings with a Tied43 placing at the 2015 PGA Championship, and top 10 finishes at the Quicken Loans National (T4) and World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational (T6). Though Lee missed the cut at the 2015 Open Championship, he had earlier success at the John Deere Classic in a tie for third position and an historic win at the Greenbrier Classic, pocketing US $1.2million. Lee’s total earnings for the season now stand at US $2.7 million, and he is sitting at 54th on the world rankings.   

Lee also hit the social media spotlight when a fun campaign, ‘#FindDannyAGirl' movement – launched by his fellow PGA Professional and prankster, Pat Perez – has seen Lee hook up with new love, ‘Sasha’. Following his win at the Greenbrier Classic, Lee joked that he needed a girlfriend, having been dubbed one of the sport's most eligible bachelors. Lee, aged 25, now appears to travel regularly with his new girlfriend, and has posted several of fun photos of himself with ‘Sasha’.

 

Ryan Fox, following his stellar performance in the Open Championship (Tied 49th), finished third at the second-tier European Challenge Tour’s Rolex Trophy in Switzerland. Fox led the tournament with an opening round of 10-under-par 62 and went into the final round leading by two shots, but Spain’s Nacho Elvira stepped up a gear and powered away with a five-under final round, to finish 24-under.  Fox’s final round of two-under included three birdies, and a bogey on the back nine, finishing five shots back. Fox’s good form has him sitting in fourth position on the European Order of Merit, earning just over Euro 70,000 in six starts, well placed to retain his European Tour card.

 

Steve Alker and Tim Wilkinson failed to make the FedEx Cup playoffs after disappointing finishes in the closing event, the Wyndham Championship. Both needing wins to progress, Alker finished the season in 178th position, and Wilkinson, 184th.  The top 125 progress to the four-tournament playoffs, so these two Kiwis will have to wait for another year.