They are the sons looking to go where their fathers have gone before.

Charlie Smail, 20, and 18-year-old Jack Turner tee off together in the first round of the North Island Golf Championships at Whakatane this afternoon with undoubtedly the best golfing pedigrees in the field.

Both are the sons of New Zealand Open champions.

Jack Turner's father Greg won this country's top golfing honour twice, in 1989 and 1997. He also won 10 other tournaments in a distinguished career which included playing in the 1998 Presidents Cup.

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Charlie is the son of David Smail, the 2001 New Zealand Open champion who also won five times during a lucrative career on the Japan Tour.

Both young men have ambitions to play professional golf, although they say their fathers are not closely involved with their game.

Smail, the defending champion at the North Island championship which is incorporated into the Bay of Plenty Open for the first time this year, didn't even start playing seriously until he was a teenager.

"My parents didn't really want me to get into it that much. I played other sports like football and cricket."

Even now his father doesn't have too much to do with his day-to-day game.

"He tries to stay out of my golf most of the time. But we talk at home, and I guess I learn a bit off him like course management and stuff like that."

Charlie Smail has tentative plans to go professional sometime late in 2019 or 2020. As yet there are no definite plans, but recent results in New Zealand suggest he's in useful form starting the North Island Championships.

He was ninth in the Cambridge Classic in early August, and 12th in the Waikato Winter strokeplay before that.

As for his chances at Whakatane?

"I've played here the last or four years at the Bay of Plenty Open so know the course pretty well. I haven't had that many good results here, but hopefully this year will be a little bit better."

Jack Turner admits his golf is a bit off the boil right now.

He tied for 33rd at the New Zealand Under 19 Championships at Manawatu Golf Club last weekend and was well down the field at the Queenstown Open the week before that.

"I'm not feeling great. The putter's been real hot and cold. I've given up trying to predict how the game is going to be."

But he's seen some recent high quality golf close up by caddying on the European Seniors Tour for the last two seasons for both his father, and for well performed Australian pros Peter Fowler and Peter O'Malley.

"Going on the senior tour is a great experience. You get to learn how they play, how they see it. I'll just be picking at their brains the whole time."

"I'm planning to hopefully turn pro. At the moment me and my coach (Craig Dixon) are thinking that's probably at least five years away.

"You don't want to be turning pro with not a lot of amateur status. So you've got to have a few good results and be up there before you turn pro."

As is the case in the Smail family, Turner senior is not that close to his son's game.

"He doesn't have a lot to do with my golf," says Jack. "He says it's all about timing and having a bit of luck at the right time.

"One thing you find from talking to dad and his mates is that golfers peak at different times. Some play their best at 50, some you can see peak at 15."

But he's not making any predictions about peaking in the next three days at Whakatane.

"I feel like I'm due for some results. It's not a hard course but the greens are really firm. I could miss the cut, I could go well, you never know."

Turner and Smail start on the 10th tee at midday today, playing with Josh Smith of Canterbury.