Rachel’s Open spot

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It’s fair to say getting a surprise entry into the NZ Open is a double-edged sword for Rachel Edmond.

The part-time Queenstowner, a regular volunteer at the golf event, was drawn out of a hat at this year’s volunteer BBQ to win an amateur playing spot for next year’s championship.

“You never imagine your name will be called out and that the dubious pleasure of playing in the Open will be bestowed upon someone much more deserving,” she says.

Edmond, 51, a golfer for about 15 years, is a member of the Royal Wellington Golf Club and used to play off a handy 8 handicap.

But she says she’s a long way off playing to that figure, following a two-year golfing hiatus and a hip replacement in December.

“I decided I’d need to implement a schedule of regular practice and play starting before the end of September.

“That gives me about five months to have a chance at achieving respectability.”

For the past five years she’s been a ‘walker scorer’ among the team of 400-plus volunteers who are the engine room of the prestigious event.

“Of course it’s a huge treat for any amateur golfer to have the opportunity to play in an event such as the NZ Open, but I sense the reality will be a little startling,”she says.

“It’s not the Saturday stableford.”

Volunteers were also acknowledged at the Open’s SBS Bank Volunteer Programme at Millbrook on Thursday.

The event gave 30 hardworking volunteers from Cromwell Golf Club a free 18-hole competition.

Cromwell volunteers have been a mainstay of the event over the years, taking ownership of a number of holes and managing them under the keen eye of Cromwell golf stalwart John McDonald.

While many NZ Open volunteers are local or from regional golf clubs, overseas volunteers are also part of the mix, with some coming each year from as far away as Scotland, California and Australia.

Next year’s NZ Open will be held from February 27 to March 1.

Volunteers can register through the NZ Open website.