The New Zealand Stroke Play Championship was an overwhelming success over the week at the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. The weather was unbelievably good on the Kapiti Coast – all days were fine with a Northerly breeze picking up on the weekend – and it was matched by the golf on Sunday afternoon to decide the men’s and women’s titles.NZ Golf Media Manager Peter Thorntonlooksbackon the highs and lows from one of the signature events on the New Zealand Golf calendar at one of the country’s finest links courses.


The performance of Jones: 
North Harbour rep Cameron Jones delivered a coming of age performance on Sunday afternoon. The 19-year-old from the Muriwai Golf Club reckoned he had finished second at least 10 times in national events over the years. He had always come close but never quite got over the line - until Sunday that is. Jones, when he “found a swing thought on the seventh hole”, achieved his two shot win in spectacular fashion. He birdied six holes in an eight hole stretch (or eight in his final 11 holes) to secure the biggest win of his young amateur career. It was incredible golf. His iron play and putting were superb but probably the most impressive part of his win was his composure and he kept pouring in the birdies even when he was in the lead. The birdie on the 17thsummed up his attacking-till the-end attitude and he needed it too as runner-up Nick Voke eagled the last to finish only two shots back. This was a superb win for Jones and one that should give him a huge amount of confidence as he adds another winner to the iGolf stable of success. He will look to back up next week at the North Island Stroke Play, the Taranaki Energy Open on the Charles Tour and the New Zealand Amateur in Manawatu. He showed to everyone and most importantly himself that he is good enough to win on the big stage.


The contenders:Special mentions here have to go to Auckland’s Nick Voke and Bay of Plenty’s Hayden Beard. Voke showed that he is a player on a consistent rise to the top of amateur golf in NZ and, like Jones, will be a contender for next year’s Worlds team in Japan. Meanwhile, Beard made a name for himself. The Mount Maunganui golfer shot from obscurity to deliver an unbelievable stretch of golf that saw him grab the lead early on the back nine in the final round. He faded to sign for a 67 but to perform the way he did – in the NZSP no less – should do the confidence a world of good. 


The comeback of Cassidy: Chantelle Cassidy has been around the local scene for a long time and experienced most of the highs and the lows the game has to offer. This was her finest moment as a golfer though. Cassidy had been a rep at the international level (playing most recently at the Queen Sirikit Cup in 2012), she finished third in the New Zealand Stroke Play last year but to win on the national stage was her time in the sun. Cassidy seems to have matured from her tough time in 2012 and hopefully she has grown from the low times. Her destiny is in her hands now and she needs to create more of the highs and less of the lows. It is up to her what she makes of her golf career from this point on and so far she is tracking well. She should take some pride in the fact she will go down in history as the NZ Stroke Play Champion of 2013.


The condition of the course and the championship test: Paraparaumu Beach will always hold a special place on the New Zealand Golf landscape. Manager Leo Barber sums it up as “the spiritual home of New Zealand Golf”. The host of 12 NZ Open Championships Paraparaumu Beach is a championship test that is unlike any other in the country. And for the NZ Stroke Play, even with one of the longest and hottest summers in recent history, the course was in fine condition. The opening two days the conditions were very benign and the scoring reflected that. Luke Toomey bravely described it as “like a country nine hole course” when he carded a six under par 65. When the northerly wind got up – and it was only really a zephyr considering how it can blow here – the course flashed some of its teeth the scoring once again reflected the conditions. It showed that Paraparaumu has lost none of its championship quality. If there was any doubt about that then it was wiped on Sunday morning when the lead groups went through the opening five holes. When it is blowing this stretch is probably the hardest opening five holes in NZ. There is the famous saying that if you can get through the opening five holes at Paraparaumu in even par then you were going pretty well. That proved the case in the final round when Malcolm Wells, who was looking to become one of the oldest winners of the NZ Stroke Play title, had a Frank Nobilo like tussle with the fifth. Five chips later Wells walked off with an eight and in that moment it was obvious that Paraparaumu is never a course you can take lightly. Let’s hope we are back at “The Beach” in less than three years as it’s great to see our amateurs hit with a test they don’t often face. 


Leo and the Paraparaumu Beach club members:Talk about leading by example. Paraparaumu Beach Manager Leo Barber was a central figure throughout the week. On the final round Leo waschanging the holes and raking the bunkers, running the show in the office and then caddying for Bay of Plenty golfer Hayden Beard in the afternoon. Need I mention he was the man leading the charge on the Saturday night with the velvety Neil Diamond tributes on Karaoke? (Sorry mate). It was a fitting display of how much hosting a big event meant to the man.  It was kind of like that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is playing baseball and is in every position. Well not quite as Leo has a great team around him and just as good a bunch of volunteers. You can tell how passionate the people here are about their place and they liked nothing more than seeing the country’s best amateurs play their track from the black tees. When you get a club that is engaged with the event right from the outset it makes running the championship so much easier.


The sacred arena of signing your scorecard (The 19thhole): It happens way too often and needs to change. Players are way too casual in the last act of the day – signing their scorecard. We had a few occasions where players had signed for an incorrect score. Fortunately for them it was a higher score than what they had actually had and they remained in the event. If they had signed for a lower score then that would be their tournament over with. New Zealand Golf has introduced scorecards in 2013 that have a perforated bottom edge for all golfers to be able to check and double check their scores with ease. It is the most important two minutes of the day and needs to be treated with more respect. If you want to know what the consequence of being too casual in this area ask Wellington professional Nick Gillespie who carded a 65 at the Victorian Open only to be disqualified for not signing his card.


Check your ball:While we are on the few lows of a great event, there were a few incidences of golfers playing the wrong ball. This can happen quite easily and the players who suffered this on the weekend will probably never make the same mistake again. Make sure that your ball is clearly identifiable as yours and only play it once you are sure it is yours. We want to see as few golfers as possible being penalized and even fewer disqualified. When our best go onto forging a successful career as a professional a mistake like this could be the difference between winning, making the cut or even ultimately keeping your card on a tour. Players should have their own special marking, so carrying a permanent marker pen, in a bright colour is a good idea.




    1 Lee, Jang Hyun 124.00
    2 Jones, Samuel 80.25
    3 Zheng, Jimmy 76.75
    4 Kobori, Kazuma 70.00
    5 Smail, Charlie 69.83
    1 Chung, Darae 100.13
    2 Son, Yeonsoo 86.85
    3 Kang, Sumin 69.60
    4 Kobori, Momoka 66.67
    5 Im, Amy 60.64