A new junior golf tournament at Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort should spur on the Wakatipu’s most promising young golfers.
The International Junior Open, on September 16 and 17, is being organised by U.S.Kids Golf’s Auckland Tour.
The winning Kiwi boys and girls in the 6 and under, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18 age groups will win entry to next year’s IMG Academy Junior World Championships in the United States.
There are also 20 spots up for grabs for a Las Vegas tournament in the US.
A field of between 120 and 150 is anticipated, mostly from around New Zealand.
Wakatipu Junior Golf Club coordinator Simon Boland expects between 12 and 20 of his members to tee off.
He says it’s a great opportunity for the likes of Noah Novacek, 10, Josh Harris, 9 and a few others.
“They have to travel to Auckland to potentially get that experience, whereas now there’s an event on our back doorstep that these kids can go along to and feel they’re part of something special.
“And all going well, if some of them perform well, they get that opportunity to travel to the US to play against the best in the world.”
Noah, who’s played for NZ kids’ teams, and Josh have enjoyed that experience over the past two years.
Playing against the world’s best 10-year-olds, Noah had a top-25 finish at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina, early this month.
In a smaller field, Josh finished seventh last month at the IJGA World Stars of Junior Golf Championship at Las Vegas.
Boland says his club, formed just four years ago, has about 130 members, about 85 per cent of whom are active.
“At most of our ‘summer slam’ events we have about 45 kids playing, which is really encouraging.
“We’re also taking some of the older kids to NZ age-group events.
“A lot of them are going to start popping up on the national stage.”
One who already has is Callum Judkins, 18, who recently spent a week at a high-performance training camp in Cambridge, near Hamilton.
Boland: “He’s led a bit of a pathway for some younger kids to say, if you put a lot of hard work in, and you’re a good all-round sort of athlete, you’re a chance to get on the radar of NZ Golf.”