Evergreen Brown to the fore


A New Zealand golf pro pocketed a cool $10,000 last weekend after winning the 2020 Hills Invitation Golf ProAm, played at The Hills in Arrowtown.

Mark Brown, of Mt Maunganui, considers himself an “oldie” in the twilight of his career, but displayed rock-solid form during both rounds of 68,68, belying that claim.

“I played really nicely and I putted very well,” he says.

“I often struggle with putting at The Hills because of the subtle breaks.







“This time I made some adjustments and didn’t allow as much for any possible breaks and just putted the line.”

The 44-year-old was thrilled with his form and also winning a place in the 101st NZ Open, being played at Millbrook and The Hills at the end of next month.

He’s twice finished in second place in that tournament.

Brown – whose career includes a European Tour title – says he’ll play the NZ Charles Tour, but looking ahead has no plans to play any longer ones.

“I will look for another job, although what exactly I have no idea, however I would like to be involved in coaching some of the up-and-coming youngsters,” he says.

Meantime, Queenstown golfer James Anstiss forced a playoff with a birdie on the 18th last Sunday, but his 15-footer slid by the hole, leaving him in a tie for second with young gun Nick Volke, of Auckland.

Both shot 68,69.

Anstiss, the 2017 Hills Invitation winner, made a great start with three birdies in the first five holes, but could only comfortably par the holes until an eagle opportunity on the par five 13th which unluckily lipped out.

A bogey on the 14th when he left an approach shot short of the green ultimately proved costly.

The nice payday will give him a good feeling as he heads to Mexico for the Latin America Qualifying School.

Success there will see him back to NZ for the Open and other Australasian events, before returning to Mexico mid-March for several events there.

Most of NZ’s top pros, including Michael Hendry, turned out at the weekend in the field of 20, all of whom took home a pay cheque.

One notable absentee, though, was fellow Queenstowner, a disappointed Ben Campbell, forced to have remedial hip surgery.

Usually held in mid-December, this year’s tournament was moved so there were no conflicting events on the golf calendar.