Luke Toomey will try to make a three-peat at the Carrus Open next week. Photo / George Novak
Golf New Zealand’s national tournament season has begun in the Bay of Plenty, bringing a ‘Festival of Golf’ to the region.
The back-to-back tournaments will bring hundreds of golfers from across New Zealand and abroad to the Bay’s best courses over the next few weeks.
The season started last week at Whakatane Golf Club with 84 golfers competing in the North Island Stroke Play and Bay of Plenty Open.
This week, the Jennian Homes Charles Tour event begins September 22-25 at the Christies Floorings Mount Open at Mount Maunganui Golf Club.
The Carrus Open rounds out the month from September 29th to October 2nd at Tauranga Golf Club.
Mount Maunganui Golf Club general manager Mike Williams said it was the first time the Mount Open and Carrus tournaments would be played back-to-back.
Williams said about 110 golfers played at the Mount Open and Carrus, with players from Auckland, Otago, Tauranga, Whakatane, Rotorua and Taupo – and as far away as Samoa and Australia.
“It’s like a golf festival.”
The Mount Open and Carrus were canceled last year because of Covid-19 restrictions and their return this year meant a boost to the local economy, Williams said.
The back-to-back tournaments meant many of the golfers would stay the full two weeks to play at both events, adding to visitor nights on the Bay, he said.
Williams said junior golfers played nine holes with some of New Zealand’s leading pros in a Futures Pro-Am at the Mount Open yesterday.
A dinner hosted by retired New Zealand rower and Olympic gold medalist Eric Murray followed.
This weekend is the All Abilities Open for golfers with disabilities, as well as a Futures Festival for all young people in the Bay of Plenty community who want to try golf.
Tauranga Golf Club manager Michelle Towersey said the Carrus Open is an opportunity to showcase the course.
“It’s a great opportunity for the players who are a bit starved of competitive golf.
“Our groundsmen look forward to preparing the course for the event.”
Towersey said the tournament is also a chance for the broader golf community to see some of the best players in action in their own Tauranga backyard.
“It really brings out the excitement.”
Golfers should keep an eye out for local golfers and former Carrus champions such as Luke Toomey, Mark Brown and Josh Geary.
“Luke won back-to-back in 2019 and 2020. Mark has won in 2014, 2015 and 2017. We didn’t direct it in 2016. Josh won in 2013.
“Our own Jim Cusdin also won in 2011.”
The Carrus Open would also feature a Futures Pro-Am for junior golfers on September 27 and a Futures Festival on October 2. Kiwi mental health advocate and television personality Mike King was a guest speaker during the week at an evening event bringing together viewers and golfers to donate to the charity I Am Hope.
Mitchell Kale, Bay of Plenty number one and a member of Tauranga Golf Club, who plays all three events, said he’s looking forward to teeing off the final stretch of competitive golf in his own backyard.
“It’s always nice to play well when you’re close to home and especially on this golf course.
“Every tournament I play, I try to do my best. It would be great to top the Jennian Homes Charles Tour events in a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to getting my game under tournament conditions beforehand to test.”
Bay of Plenty women’s number one Taylor-Rose Perrett said she also wants to compete with her peers over the next few weeks.
Perrett, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance from the University of Waikato, is returning to competitive golf after suffering a back injury.
Last week’s events were the first of three events for Perrett.
“I had to leave with an injury so I’m excited to see how my game and body will hold up,” she said.
Kale finished tied seventh at the Bay of Plenty Open and North Island Stroke Play last week while Perret finished ninth.
Wellington’s Sam Marsters was crowned Stroke Play Champion at the 2022 North Island and Bay of Plenty Open Men’s Stroke Play. Titirangi Golf Club member Amy Han dominated the women’s stroke game in the North Island and Bay of Plenty to win her first national championship by an amazing 12 strokes.
“I’m really honored to have won the Bay of Plenty Open and the North Island Stroke Play.
“All my hard work has paid off. I’m delighted with the win and will make sure to keep training to improve my game so I can feel like this more often in the future.”
– Zoe Hunter’s fiancé Hayden Beard competes in the Carrus Open.