A Waihi golfer has won herself a trip of a lifetime to compete in the R&A 9 Hole Challenge on the eve of the 149th Open Championship held at Royal St. Georges in 2021.
Carol Leary from Waihi Golf Club along with Cherie Flannery from St Clair Golf Club both earned their places in the field through Golf New Zealand’s nine-hole initiative Make Time Play 9 held in conjunction with the R&A which aims to promote the shorter format of the game.
They were two players of nine that made their way to Queenstown last weekend to compete in a mixed field nine-hole, stableford event played on the Coronet 9 at Millbrook Resort. They qualified through handing in a nine-hole scorecard and were randomly selected from 314,395 entries to attend the Make Time Play 9 Final Event.
Although Carol who booked a spot with 15 stableford points,had a slow start over the first four holes with a pair of double bogeys, she grew in confidence and caught fire down the stretch scoring par, par, birdie, birdie over the next four holes. The excitement and nerves may have played a role as Carol’s approach shot was unable to carry over the water surrounding the 9th green.
In the end, Carol’s strong play throughout the middle of her round was enough to stay ahead of the field with third place scoring 14 stableford points.
Cherie had 18 stableford points to be the first person to book her plane ticket to Royal St. Georges.
Before the round started, Cherie said “I was very nervous, but once I teed off, I started feeling alright.”
“I had some good hits and some bad hits, even overall! The weather turned out amazing and I met a great group of people. It is amazing. Bring on England!” says Cherie.
“I’m just feeling very overwhelmed. It’s been an amazing day and to have this result has been awesome,” says Cherie, elated.
The trip of a lifetime also marks two very different but equally amazing stories about how the pair got into the game of golf. Carol has had a club in her hands since she was 16 years old, learning from her father on the farm whereas Cherie only got into the game five years ago because her husband is a golfer and her friends kept encouraging her to give it a go.
Both Cherie’s and Carol’s journey from getting out for nine holes has resulted in them playing in the Make Time Play 9 event at Millbrook Resort, to now teeing it up at the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. Georges in July, at The R&A’s 9-Hole Challenge, if international travel is safe.
Make Time Play 9 is Golf New Zealand’s initiative challenging the perception that golf is a time-consuming sport. Since the launch in 2020, Golf New Zealand has encouraged all golfers to get outside and make time for time in their day to do things that are meaningful to them, to be active, to play with their friends and family, to take on a new personal challenge, and to have fun.