Wakatipu golf aces take on world

Golfing, Stateside: Wakatipu Junior Golf Club members Noah Novacek, left, and Josh Harris

Two pint-sized aces of Queenstown’s golf scene have returned from the United States with tales of tournaments, new friends and, of course, Disneyland.

Earlier this month, Wakatipu Juniors Noah Novacek, 9, and Josh Harris, 8, played the US Kids Golf Foundation’s world champs at the legendary Pinehurst No.1 course in North Carolina.

Noah managed tied-41st out of 150 boys in his age group, making a respectable 17-over for his three rounds.

(Winner Phillip Dunham, of Jacksonville, Florida, is one to watch – scoring 13-under to win by seven strokes.)

Josh, meanwhile, shot 23-over in his three lots of nine-holes, finishing tied-68th out of 140 boys his age.

Noah says conditions were “difficult and hot” but he was happy with how he went.

Pinehurst was tricky, he says, particularly the sloping greens. The tournament made him think about what he can improve: “Approach shots, into the green.”

Asked what Pinehurst was like, Josh says: “Obviously it’s called Pinehurst so it’s got quite a lot of pine trees.

“And as well it has bermuda grass, which is a lot different.”

Before the pair’s world champs heroics, Josh, a lefty, warmed up with a seventh in the World Stars of Junior Golf tournament in Las Vegas.

Proud mum Anne says Josh learnt a lot from being in the lead group going into the final day in Vegas.

Competition was tough. Some kids have their names emblazoned on their golf bags, she says, while parents could be “pretty full-on”.

“It was a fun experience,” Josh says.

He adds: “It was great at Disneyland.”

His favourite ride was California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure Park.

Josh met new mates, too, from Texas and Hong Kong.

“He loved it,” Anne says. “He said he wanted to stay in America, he didn’t want to come back.”