Two of the most awaited events on the calender should provide top class golf at the picturesque Mount Maunganui course from tomorrow until Sunday.
The second New Zealand Men's Foursomes Championships to be held at the course tees off at 8am tomorrow to be followed on Saturday and Sunday by the highly prized 72 hole strokeplay event - the 13th running of the Ssangyong Grant Clements Memorial Tournament.
Entries have exceeded the field limit of 96. The country's top young amateur golfers from throughout the country, will compete in front of the New Zealand selectors. Also included are four young players who have been given a wildcard entry by tournament organiser Ray Horsfall to help foster our top local talent - Mount Maunganui members Joshua Rooks, Josh Wilson and Andrew Jackson, plus Tyler King from Omokoroa.
The men's field has strong entries with more than 55 players with a handicap of scratch or better, and another 20 on +1.0 to +7.8. The handicap cut off is at a remarkably low 1.1. Players on competitive low handicaps include Jordan Bakermans (Canterbury, +4.7), Nick Voke (Manukau, +3.4), Brent McEwan (Otago, +3.2), Victor Janin (Rotorua, +3.3) and Brendon Mazey (Wellington, +3.0), and the Omanu Junior Classic winner Denzel Ieremia returns to the scene of his victory last month.
Unfortunately the clash with the New Zealand Women's Open has had an impact on the women's field but the nine players entered include talented Omanu teenager Alannah Campbell, and four players have handicaps of scratch or better.
Many of the men's field are returning from events in Melbourne and Sydney and there will be interest in the homecoming of ex-Mount Maunganui junior player Jack Sullivan, who is ranked in the top under-19 team in Queensland.
Sam An (Auckland) will defend his title which is made slightly easier with the absence of the four top players in Vaughan McCall, Blair Reardon, Josh Munn and Tyler Hodge, who are representing New Zealand in the new Ten Nations Cup in South Africa. But there are plenty who will make the best of this opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Josh Geary, Danny Lee and Ryan Fox who have competed in past years.
The Grant Clements tournament has witnessed some very good scores over the years. Jordan Bakerman shot a course record of 63 but it did not qualify as there was placing on fairways last year.
The tournament pays due respect to the man regarded as New Zealand's greatest golfing administrator who current club captain Ray Horsfall says also left his mark at the the Mount Maunganui club.
"Basically the main memory of Grant is the work he did with New Zealand golf and putting in the systems and the procedures to develop our elite golfers to the point of winning the Eisenhower Trophy in 1992," Horsefall said.
"That followed the time he was here as the BOP Freyburg rep from 72-73, he was club captain here in 76-77, and president from 82-83."
Tomorrow's New Zealand Amateur Foursomes Championships will be played over 36 holes and has attracted 50 very competitive pairs. It will have a new winner as James Hamilton (Omanu) and Sam Davis (Tauranga) are not defending their title. Women pairings are also in the field plus local Mount Maunganui members who are playing in a nett competition.
Bay of Plenty, fresh from their 2012 interprovincials win, have entered a strong team in Bradley Kendall and Peter Lee.
Grant Clements Memorial Tournament lowest scores
63 Jordan Bakerman 2012
64 Roscoe Valentine 2004, Jim Lapsley 2005, Mark Purser 2006
65 Ben Taylor 2007, Danny Lee 2008
66 Kevin Budden 2009, Leighton James 2007, Ryan Fox 2010, 2011