Going green for summer

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Matt Douglas (left) and Tane Gent are raking in the coin these school holidays.

Take that literally – these hardworking teens are raking up gravel, smoothing out sand bunkers and clearing out ponds in their summer holiday earner at The Hills golf course.

Both are on the green­keeping payroll leading into the Michael Hill NZ Golf Open from January 28-31, each pocketing a couple of hundred bucks for their toil.

And they reckon they get no special favours even though Tane’s mum Sam is general manager at The Hills and Matt’s dad Ian is operations manager.

“It’s a 7am start and we do weed-whacking, tidy-up work and other odd jobs around the place,” Matt says. “But my main job is raking bunkers.”

Matt, 15, who’ll work through the NZ Open, is putting his wages towards a cultural trip to Japan in 2010 with Wakatipu High.

Tane, 16, says his hard-earned money will be put aside until needed to fund his football dreams in the new year.
He was a member of the Young All Whites side that two months ago became the first Kiwis to make it through to the knockout stage of a Fifa tournament – in their case, the last 16 of the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria.

Tane spent 2009 boarding at Kings in Auckland to further his club football but is returning to St Andrew’s College in Christchurch at the end of next month. He has his sights –and his holiday pay – set on making the NZ Schoolboys side touring England in April.

Those trials are on in Palmerston North on January 26-27 – just days out from the NZ Open. And despite his newfound interest in greenkeeping, Gent won’t be hanging around Arrowtown.

It’s a tough ask for a 16-year-old to break into the schoolboys side, where the majority of players will be 17- and 18-year-olds. But if he gets selected to tour, he could be lining up against the full England Schoolboys side – Roy of the Rovers stuff.

  • Among players confirmed this week for the NZ Open are Colombia’s Manny Villegas (younger brother of golfing poster boy Camilo), Aussies Peter Senior, Stephen Leaney, Peter O’Malley and Steve Allan, and emerging Kiwi Josh Geary, who made a race of the 2009 Open, and Bradley Iles.