Bay of Plenty head to Dunedin tomorrow as defending champions and one of the favoured teams for next week's Diners Club Freyberg Masters.

But for decades Bay of Plenty floundered at the national tournament for male golfers over 40, often wooden spooners and without a title from 1986 until the landmark 2013 event.

That year history was made at the Coringa Golf Club in Christchurch when Bay of Plenty finally triumphed, by half a team point over Aorangi in one of the closest matchplay contests in recent years.

Since that eventful week there has been a marked turnaround in the consistency of the Bay of Plenty masters team.


Last year they won again in the glorious setting of Ngamotu Golf Club in New Plymouth to claim two of the last three titles.

The 2016 tournament would take place at the spectacular cliff-top setting of Chisholm Links Golf Club, which could be a delight or a nightmare depending on the wind velocity.

The Bay of Plenty team, in playing order, was Darryn Lowans (Omokoroa), Simon Wright (Mount Maunganui), Blair Murdock (Tauranga), Steve Heberley (Whakatane), Jason Madden (Omokoroa), with reserve Bryan Pirani (Omokoroa).

Team manager and former player Ross Fowler, who had been involved with the team for 18 years, said they were taking a strong side down south.

"Obviously the boys are buoyant but it is so different every year as the teams change every year and this thing just gets more and more challenging," Fowler said.

"Simon is an old Bay boy who used to play at Omanu back in their heyday with Michael Wilson and Anton Stockman and those sort of guys.

"He is a good player and for the last few years he has played one or two for Aorangi so with him coming in it strengthens our top even more, which has enabled us to drop Blair down a spot. He is arguably our best player, although Darryn has proven to be the rock at No 1 in recent times.

"Certainly having Blair in the middle there really strengthens the team up."

Fowler said the focus ahead of next week was to go out and win the title again rather than trying to defend it.

"It is a year to year thing. We don't take anything for granted. It is not ours. We just take the trophy back so we can win it again and bring it home at the end of next week."

The resurgence in masters' golf had delighted Fowler, who had put so much effort in to the Bay team over such a long period.

"We have a good network of guys who try really hard and we have had good support from Bay of Plenty Golf - particularly (CEO) Chris McAlpine and Mike Campbell, who is the Bay coach and has been doing some finishing touches with the boys this week.

"They can see the work the boys are putting in so they are happy to support it and the results speak for themselves."

Diners Club Freyberg Masters, Chisholm Links Golf Club, Dunedin, October 31 - November 4.