Golf: Preparation nets title results

By Peter White

Bay of Plenty's domination over Auckland, Waikato and Northland continues unabated after both the Garrard Shield and Ralph Cup were won over the weekend at the Auckland Golf Club.

Both trophies have a prestigious history dating back to 1955, with the Garrard Shield played for by the top senior men and the Ralph Cup featuring the best under-19 talent.

Bay of Plenty have now won the Garrard Shield for seven consecutive seasons - quite an astonishing feat as the playing roster changes from year to year. The Bay won the shield for the first time in 1971, then in 2002 and 2003 before the record winning streak began in 2006.

Bay of Plenty Golf CEO Chris McAlpine puts the recent dominance down to the systems that are in place and coaching by Golf Fusion's Jay Carter.

"From the time we have moved from a voluntary organisation we are now far more professional in our pathways, and there is a huge emphasis on things like fitness now," McAlpine said.

"We identify all our kids now from 11 and 12-years so they are tagged all the way through.

They are on the latest programmes available, like Shots To Hole, which is the latest assessment thing they can do, so basically we have state of the art programmes.

"The biggest thrill for me is to see the numbers that have gone through our teams to the professional ranks, like Josh Geary, Brad Iles, Jared Pender, James Hamilton and the most recent one Kieran Muir.

"Our consistency has been outstanding, not just at the Garrard. At the NZ Interprovincials there is only one time since 2002 that we haven't been in the semis or finals, and of course we have won six or seven of those.

"Winning the Ralph Cup as well is encouraging to the depth we have in place, so we have the younger ones still to come through."

The standout player for Bay of Plenty in winning the Garrard Shield was Peter Lee from the Rotorua Golf Club, who played at number two and won all three matches.

McAlpine says it was a real team effort that got the Bay over the line this year. "Brad Kendall had a good win over Northland and then missed a real makeable putt to halve his match against New Zealand rep Sam Ahn. He then beat the Waikato number one Compton Pikari, who is also a Srixon Academy member.

"Two weeks ago he beat Josh Munn at the Central North Island tournament, who is arguably the second top rated player, so to get those two scalps is pretty encouraging and augers well for him to lead our team at the NZ Interprovincials, beginning on December 4 at Balmacewen in Dunedin.

"The unlucky player was Craig Hamilton from Omanu, who just missed out on the team, William Howard, playing at six, had two wins and a half, while Victor Janin has probably been the most consistent all year.

"Landyn Edwards didn't have his best weekend at the Garrard but he has been such a fighter in the past we hope he has time to tune up before the Interprovincials."

To prepare for playing at the renowned steep Balmacewen course the Bay squad has been training running up the imposing hillside at the third hole at Tauranga Golf Club. It is this sort of attention to detail that explains such a consistent record.

Coach Carter has been in charge of the Bay team since 2008 and is obviously a major influence on the emphasis on fitness and a professional outlook to preparing for the major events.

"At the Garrard Shield we met in the hotel car park at 6am and went for a run together to start the day," Carter said. "That was everyone, juniors and seniors, and I don't think that is something any other golf team does.

"It is now part of our routine and the boys know it. It is really good for team bonding and the senior players have stepped up and own that as well. It is good for the culture of the young guys coming through to see that.

"We have pretty clear structures when we go away and good processes around what we do now. When I first started I don't think a lot of that was there, so now when the guys go away they know what the expectation is and that has certainly changed a lot from when I was playing."

Carter is looking forward to the major challenge in the golfing year of the NZ Interprovincials.

"Auckland and Waikato will be tough teams and neither of them are on our side of the draw. Five man teams are tough because if you make one mistake, it can be over, so a lot of that is about preparation.

"Other teams are better than us on paper maybe but year in year we seem to do alright, which I put down to preparation."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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