Stories of open glory, and shame

Annual Tahunga men’s open produces plenty of 19th-hole and van-trip-home stories from a hardy bunch.

Annual Tahunga men’s open produces plenty of 19th-hole and van-trip-home stories from a hardy bunch.

VICTORY DRINKS: Tahunga men’s open net winner Jim Ash and gross winner Brent Colbert with their trophies. Ash filled his while Colbert designed and presented his in 2001, and has now won it three times. Pictures by Chris Taewa
A broken club embedded into a fence post on the first. The mug who broke it had to traipse back in the dark to get it, a round trip of 772 metres. “That’ll learn me,” he said.

IT’S a long walk from the clubhouse to the green on the first hole at Tahunga Golf Club when you’re not hitting a ball.

I know this because I made it to retrieve the missing part of my pitching wedge after a shameful loss of self-control at the Tahunga men’s open on Saturday.

Note to self. No.8 wire can break through a shaft if your club is applied to it with enough downward force (by all accounts the look of surprise on this idiot’s face was priceless).

Note to self 2. Chipping into the wire three times in a row (Tahunga’s greens are surrounded by wire fences), then boning your fourth attempt six foot past the pin is not an excuse to use said club as wire-cutters.

Note to self 3: If you do lose your rag, don’t leave one of the broken bits behind, resulting in some smart bugger impaling it into the top of a fencepost, and you having to walk the 386 metres in the dark, the rain, the mud and hypothermia-producing cold to get it . . . and another 386m back.

Yep, the annual Tahunga men’s open produced plenty of 19th-hole and van-trip-home stories as a hardy bunch from courses near and far ignored a questionable forecast to support this worthy club.

Memories began being stored from the moment David Situ failed to notice that everyone parked on one side of the club’s driveway for a reason and got his VW stuck deep in the mud.

So too did the player who tried to tow him out.

“Is this going to go in the paper?” Situ said with a look of dread.

Clearly a rhetorical question.

A heavy Tahunga course, along with squally showers, proved a test of one’s character as much as game, and the course record (4-under 66) the guns eagerly eye each year was not threatened this time.

Major sponsor Brent Colbert and Andrew Higham are joint holders of the record (with Eric Gordon) and ended up going head-to-head for the 2017 gross honours albeit in different groups.

Both posted 71 but the title went to Colbert on countback, thanks to his back nine holes of 2-under 33. He was presented the glass trophy he himself designed from a golf club-shaped bottle of bourbon and was first played for in 2001.

The latest win was his third — adding it to 2011 and 2015 victories.

The story of the tournament, though, belonged to the player who won the overall net.

Mahia’s Jim Ash went to Wairoa on Saturday in the hope of playing in a tournament there. He was a late entry and had to wait to see if there were any pull-outs.

No such luck but he was told about the Tahunga open so headed that way via Tiniroto and was rewarded for his endeavour with the trophy for best overall net, courtesy of his 81-18-63.

Joviality in the clubhouse was briefly and fittingly interrupted at the start of the prize-giving.

A minute’s silence was observed in memory of former Tahunga members Jaymee Watson, who died in a tragic accident last month, and mother Ruth, who passed away just days later.

Before darkness descended, Gray Clapham added to the experience when he sent up his drone and took some stunning shots of the course and surrounding landscape.

It included Tahunga’s signature 128-metre par-3 bridge hole, where another story had earlier been added to the annals of open history.

One of the city players powder-puffed a wedge shot off the tee, his ball barely making it over the river.

A playing group member and four-ball matchplay opponent could not disguise his glee, saying: “if you can up-and-down from there, I’ll shout you for the rest of the night”.

Said player, who could not see the pin from where his ball lay, took out sand wedge and proceeded to pitch his ball to a metre of the pin and sink the putt for par.

“Nothing like the taste of free beer,” he gloated in the clubhouse afterwards.

IT’S a long walk from the clubhouse to the green on the first hole at Tahunga Golf Club when you’re not hitting a ball.

I know this because I made it to retrieve the missing part of my pitching wedge after a shameful loss of self-control at the Tahunga men’s open on Saturday.

Note to self. No.8 wire can break through a shaft if your club is applied to it with enough downward force (by all accounts the look of surprise on this idiot’s face was priceless).

Note to self 2. Chipping into the wire three times in a row (Tahunga’s greens are surrounded by wire fences), then boning your fourth attempt six foot past the pin is not an excuse to use said club as wire-cutters.

Note to self 3: If you do lose your rag, don’t leave one of the broken bits behind, resulting in some smart bugger impaling it into the top of a fencepost, and you having to walk the 386 metres in the dark, the rain, the mud and hypothermia-producing cold to get it . . . and another 386m back.

Yep, the annual Tahunga men’s open produced plenty of 19th-hole and van-trip-home stories as a hardy bunch from courses near and far ignored a questionable forecast to support this worthy club.

Memories began being stored from the moment David Situ failed to notice that everyone parked on one side of the club’s driveway for a reason and got his VW stuck deep in the mud.

So too did the player who tried to tow him out.

“Is this going to go in the paper?” Situ said with a look of dread.

Clearly a rhetorical question.

A heavy Tahunga course, along with squally showers, proved a test of one’s character as much as game, and the course record (4-under 66) the guns eagerly eye each year was not threatened this time.

Major sponsor Brent Colbert and Andrew Higham are joint holders of the record (with Eric Gordon) and ended up going head-to-head for the 2017 gross honours albeit in different groups.

Both posted 71 but the title went to Colbert on countback, thanks to his back nine holes of 2-under 33. He was presented the glass trophy he himself designed from a golf club-shaped bottle of bourbon and was first played for in 2001.

The latest win was his third — adding it to 2011 and 2015 victories.

The story of the tournament, though, belonged to the player who won the overall net.

Mahia’s Jim Ash went to Wairoa on Saturday in the hope of playing in a tournament there. He was a late entry and had to wait to see if there were any pull-outs.

No such luck but he was told about the Tahunga open so headed that way via Tiniroto and was rewarded for his endeavour with the trophy for best overall net, courtesy of his 81-18-63.

Joviality in the clubhouse was briefly and fittingly interrupted at the start of the prize-giving.

A minute’s silence was observed in memory of former Tahunga members Jaymee Watson, who died in a tragic accident last month, and mother Ruth, who passed away just days later.

Before darkness descended, Gray Clapham added to the experience when he sent up his drone and took some stunning shots of the course and surrounding landscape.

It included Tahunga’s signature 128-metre par-3 bridge hole, where another story had earlier been added to the annals of open history.

One of the city players powder-puffed a wedge shot off the tee, his ball barely making it over the river.

A playing group member and four-ball matchplay opponent could not disguise his glee, saying: “if you can up-and-down from there, I’ll shout you for the rest of the night”.

Said player, who could not see the pin from where his ball lay, took out sand wedge and proceeded to pitch his ball to a metre of the pin and sink the putt for par.

“Nothing like the taste of free beer,” he gloated in the clubhouse afterwards.

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