All Black legend Grant Fox is the ambassador of the HSBC 9 Hole challenge. After a busy year of rugby commitments as part of the Sky Sport commentary team, the World Cup winning first five eight of 1987 can’t wait to dust off his clubs and play in the nationwide nine hole event this summer.

Where did your passion for golf come from?
I can recall my father playing as a youngster down at the farm where we lived growing up in Putaruru. He was a left handed golfer but he carried one right handed club in his bag because he could play the kack-handed shot when he was stuck up against a tree or by a fence. All of the Fox boys were right handed so my brothers and I would play with that club and hit shots down the fairway and on the farm to learn the game. I had a set of goalposts in the front paddock and would hit towards them. Then in 7th form we had a period called ‘liberal studies’ and that was always a time we’d try to get out on the golf course. Anytime we went away on tour with the All Blacks we tried to fit in some golf and that was always good fun. I love the game. I like how you can be competitive against golfers of a whole range of abilities through the handicap system. It is a game you can play for life.

There is a good culture among the All Blacks where they play a lot of golf you must have special memories of playing some great courses on tour?
We weren’t always able to play the best courses because we were there to play rugby and many of them were out of the way. But I have been fortunate through a business contact to have played some of the best courses in Scotland. I have played the likes of St Andrews, Muirfield and Loch Lomond and they are all very special places to play. I have played a lot of great courses in Australia and at one place that was aptly named Cape Shank that was good fun.

The HSBC 9 Hole challenge is into its third year and last year an encouraging statistic was the 10 percent growth in nine hole membership?
That is hugely encouraging and a sign of the times. People are increasingly time poor and all of the preparation that goes into playing 18 holes takes time. Society has changed and golf needs to change with it. That is what HSBC 9 Hole challenge is all about. It is a quick, fun and easy way to get involved in the game. With daylight savings and twilight golf just around the corner the HSBC 9 Hole challenge will pick up again. It is great competition to be involved with and I am sure that it has played a significant role in increasing nine hole membership across New Zealand. People who have an interest in golf should enter the tournament because it is the perfect way to get involved in the game in a relaxed and social environment.

It’s been a busy year for your son Ryan [24-year-old New Zealand’s number one amateur] you must be proud of his progress in the amateur ranks?
He has had a good year. He won a couple of titles here in New Zealand after some encouraging form earlier in the year in Australia but I think most pleasing was his trip to the States. He played very well there in big events and his game is in good shape. As he comes closer to making the change to the pro ranks and beyond the challenge is seeking continued improvement.

Ryan is talking about turning professional at the end of 2011; do you think he is ready?
He is very close. If you look at his form in the US where he got good results in three out of the four big tournaments he played then he rated well which shows he handles the big occasion well and has a good temperament. He is not in the same league as the very top American amateurs yet, the likes of [World No.1] Patrick Cantlay and [No.4] Peter Uihlein, but when it comes to that next level of players the very good Americans he is comfortable competing with them. There is no reason why he can’t join them and be a successful professional.

Is it hard fitting in time to watch him play at the moment?
I normally carry his bag for him but the next couple of months are a crazy time work wise. The Rugby World Cup only comes by once in every blue moon so I need to make the most of that. I am nothing more than a glorified bag handler anyway. He makes all the decisions. I make sure he is well fed and watered. There is not much help I can offer him – he has his game in order.

With all of the work you are doing I bet you are itching for some time to play golf yourself?
I am pretty keen to get out there and play some golf regularly throughout summer. I really enjoy my golf in the summer and the HSBC 9 Hole challenge is a fun thing to be part of. It has been a really busy year with the rugby commitments and it will be nice to relax and unwind on the course. That is what I love about the game – it is where I get to relax. For me, golf is not so much about the competition, well there is a bit there, but it is much more about catching up with some good mates and having cold ale and a laugh afterwards. It is nice to relax and have that change of pace and golf course is the perfect place for it.

Visit the website below for upcoming HSBC 9 Hole challenge events in your region:

If you would like to register your club for a HSBC 9 Hole challenge Club Event, which can be run as a normal twilight event at your club, contact Jan Burrows on



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