New Zealand shines at 2017 World Masters Games
New Zealand shines at World Masters Games
Auckland hosted the 2017 World Masters Golf Tournament – and what a success.
Despite a late-autumn billing, the weather was exceptionally pleasant for all four days of play. It was even kind at Muriwai, where players are so often challenged by howling winds across the west-coast links course. Competitors enjoyed benign playing conditions while gazing out over a rugged ocean beach that had surf rolling in all day. What an advertisement for golf in New Zealand.
While the maximum tournament field size was 720, the starting line-up was slightly reduced with the inevitable withdrawals and cancellations. Players competed in a traditional handicap stableford competition format with a concurrent championship stableford challenge, and players also scored by gross stableford points. Kiwis made up half of the field, and they dominated the medal ceremonies.
New Zealanders claimed the championship and handicap stableford gold medals for the women’s 35-44 and 55-64 age groups. Germany won the handicap stableford gold medal in the women’s 45-54 age group with New Zealand taking the championship gold medal. Papua New Guinea won the championship gold medal in the women’s 65-74 age group with New Zealand earning gold in the handicap stableford group.
Australia had a strong contingent of women golfers, but took home only one gold medal – the women’s championship in the 75+ category with New Zealand taking the handicap stableford gold to bring the Kiwis’ tally to seven golds out of a possible 10.
Canada and New Caledonia managed to wrest a gold medal apiece from the Kiwis in the men’s divisions. The Kiwis took gold in all except the men’s 55+ handicap stableford and the men’s 65-74 handicap stableford group. Eight golds went to the New Zealand men and, surprisingly, not one to arch rivals Australia.
It was a great haul for New Zealand but the tournament, the weather, the courses and the overall organisation were the real winners.
The International Masters Games Association manages the World Masters Games, which are recognised by the International Olympic Committee. The association’s planning and execution was thorough in all regards down to the last detail.
There were even pages of the manual dedicated to the award ceremony, ensuring that the procedure was precisely replicated over the 28 different sports codes. The volunteers had to submit an application, undergo a police vetting process and attend two briefings – one a general World Masters Games briefing and one a specific sports briefing.
It was surprising then that a ‘manual’ was not given to New Zealand Golf when it was asked to be involved as the sport partner for the golf programme. The tournament format and course selection was basically left up New Zealand Golf.
The programme, as announced, included three rounds at selected venues around Auckland, including Pakuranga, Akarana and Muriwai – all championship courses that regularly host New Zealand Golf Amateur and Charles Tour tournaments.
New Zealand Golf devised a ‘cut’ format for reducing the final field of 693 golfers down to about a third to compete in a fourth and final round to decide the eventual winners over 10 age and gender categories.
The competition format was fair to all players, regardless of whether their handicap was high or low. It also encouraged players to pick up if they could not score, so the large fields did not slow play.
Competitors played in their respective age divisions, rotating around the three qualifying courses. Organisers provided scheduled transport for players and their bags, and only one player turned up at a course out of rotation. Indeed, there were only a few small glitches over the whole event, despite the challenging logistics.
Like the Olympic Games, the World Masters Games is hosted every four years, with the 10th scheduled in 2021 at Kansai, in the south-central region of Japan’s main island, Honshu. A contingent of Japanese delegates attended each golf venue during this year’s Games, seeking as much input as possible on all aspects. Details of their programme will be released in time, but we understand they will be introducing caddies for all players. There has been no mention of cost.
The 2017 games motto was ‘For the Love of Sport’ and Japan has announced its motto for 2021 as being, ‘The Blooming of Sport for Life’.
Certainly, New Zealand bloomed last week. It was a great show for our golf, professionalism and country. Well done New Zealand Golf and all involved – you can be proud.