Golf: One hit wonder 9 times over

By Anendra Singh

If holes in one are purely accidental then one can safely assume Janice Roberts must be in a state of total disrepair on golf courses here.

That's because the 72-year-old last month carded a staggering ninth hole in one at her home course of Napier Golf Club - a feat spread a shade over two decades.

On January 18, Roberts aced the 7th Mannering's 105m hole from the women's yellow marker - the sixth time she has nailed that hole.

"I used a seven iron and it just went straight into the hole," she says of the shot, executed that Friday about 9.30am in the company of club captain Sue Tapuae and Wiki Blythe playing in the regular weekly women's stableford competition.

The 13 handicapper, who once flirted with the scratchie territory two decades ago, carded 86 that day.

Retiring as Golf Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay president after the annual meeting of the governing body on February 28 after assuming the mantle for two years, Roberts is an honorary member of the Napier club where her mother, the late Shirley Longney, was a life member.

Janice Roberts has been ploughing fairways for more than 50 years.

Her grandfather, the late Jack Snaddon, of Napier, first taught her how to swing an iron from the age of 11 but former Napier club professional (from 1950-1993), the late Ernie Southerden and father of current club professional Kim Southerden, honed her skills as a youngster, and also from Kim as an adult.

Roberts stopped playing in 1965 to have three children before returning to the tee-off mounds in 1972.

For the record, the amateur from Taradale doesn't adhere to some schools of thought that suggest holes in one are as predictable as lottery tickets.

"Mine are definitely calculated ones," she says.

"I always size up the short holes and I always think I'll get a hole in one if I aim for it properly."

Asked why all her holes in one emanated from the Napier club and not at Hastings, Hawke's Bay or Maraenui golf clubs where she's also played, Roberts isn't sure but reckons it probably has something to do with familiarity with one's home course.

"You feel more comfortable, I suppose, knowing where to tee off from and where you want the ball to land, but at other courses you can't be that sure."

She has nailed the 138m 11th Bunker hole twice and it was bingo just once on the 152m Kurupo's 15th hole.

So does she have a favourite or are they all special?

"It'll have to be the 15th hole because I had to use my driver to score on that one."

Roberts has received a badge from the club.

In previous occasions she has collected several auld mugs, plaques and certificates to acknowledge her feat.

In return, she has shouted club members free drinks, bought olive trees to plant on the course or subsidised $1 off the drinks of all members present at the clubhouse on the day.

This time she bought three bottles of spirits that the women's club captain can use for raffles.

Incidentally Roberts isn't in the habit of keeping or mounting the golf balls as mementoes.

"I have never kept them. I simply chuck them back into the bag."

Has she got any tips for those lost souls who still dream about acing a hole?

"Yes, just simply get back out there, keep teeing up and keep your heads down."

Roberts believes "another girl", Jenny Richie, in her 60s and from Central Hawke's Bay, has emulated her feat.

In 1953, a New Zealand 18-handicapper, Eliza Small, reportedly carded nine holes in one in the space of three months, including four in successive rounds and two in one day.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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