By PHILIP CHANDLER
The head teaching pro at Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort last Thursday stunned a very competitive field at the Marlborough Pro-Am, near Blenheim, to win by two shots.
Ben Gallie, 41, headed off 51 other pros including Michael Hendry, Josh Geary and Gareth Paddison — it was the biggest turnout of pros in New Zealand since the NZ Open over summer.
Remarkably, he’d only played six 18-hole rounds this year, and not teed off in a tournament for about two years.
Shooting a five-under par 67, Gallie, who picked up $2000 for his troubles and product from naming sponsor Whitehaven Wines, also broke the Fairhall course record by two shots, despite never having seen the course before.
Accompanied by his wife Megan, who caddied for him, Gallie says he played this pro-am
and tournaments in Nelson and Kaikoura because he’d been missing playing competitive golf.
‘‘I thought before the school holidays come up I’ll go up and play three events and see if I still like it and see if I can still do it.’’
Teeing off at the back of the field in very windy conditions, his main aim was to drive the ball well — he ended with seven birdies and two bogeys.
Gallie says his win ‘‘gives hope to all the other club pros out there to say, look, you get it right on the day, you can still do it’’.
For him the best thing is it vindicated his ‘priority system’ of teaching, whereby, with little or no practice, you just focus on what’s important.
‘‘For me, it was driving and the shots inside 50 metres [of the pin], and I played them real
Despite the win, Gallie says he probably won’t be playing more tournaments.
‘‘I think I got enough out of it, I got a taste.
‘‘I’ll play a few more pro-ams when they come up, but [I’m] definitely still going to keep the focus on the coaching.’’