Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Top senior golfers to contest national title at Mount Maunganui

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IN FORM: Three-time winner Andrew Markman will be one of the favourites to win the NZSGA Ocean Shores Village Championship on his home course of Mount Maunganui. PHOTO/FILE
IN FORM: Three-time winner Andrew Markman will be one of the favourites to win the NZSGA Ocean Shores Village Championship on his home course of Mount Maunganui. PHOTO/FILE

It has taken 62 years but the NZ Seniors Golf Association Championship will finally be played in the Western Bay of Plenty next week.

It is a mystery how the tournament has missed these shores for so long, with an abundance of outstanding golf courses and a captive audience of over 55-year-olds living in the region.

But it is fitting that the NZSGA Ocean Shores Village Championship will be hosted by Mount Maunganui Golf Club, the most successful of any New Zealand club in the tournament's history.

Mount Maunganui members have won the championship 17 time since inception in 1955, with Brian Ducker the supreme champion having won or shared the title on seven occasions.

He is back again this year with other notable Mount Maunganui members in three-time winner Andrew Markman, Trevor Campbell who has won it twice, and Ian Pollard and Robert Lunn (aged 82) in the top division.

Tournament director Ian Nicholls said it was a significant tournament for the over-55 age group of golfers.

"The tournament is open to men and women, with a field of 136 with 96 men and 40 women representing 62 New Zealand clubs," he said.

"There are six divisions of 16 players in the men's. In the championship division, the lowest men's handicaps vary from Peter Rankin on 3 from the Royal Wellington Golf Club, closely followed by Ron Sisson from Omanu on a 4 and Alan Spedding from Te Puke on a 4.

"Mount has six players in the top division with Andrew Markman (5), Phil Maddren (5) the lowest handicappers."

The men's format is 18 holes of strokeplay on Monday afternoon to qualify, followed by four mornings of matchplay from Tuesday to Friday to find the champion.

The women play gross, nett and stableford over four days with Wednesday a day off.

Nicholls said the course at Mount Maunganui would be in top condition and set up fairly for the golfers.

"Our course superintendent has got the course exactly where he wants it. We are not going to make it a fiery course or anything like that. It is just going to be a good, competitive course I think.

"You can never quite tell what the winds and sunshine are going to do to the sand-based course so we are trying to keep it a good, playing course."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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