Seventy golfers from around New Zealand qualified through to the HSBC 9 Hole challenge Final last Friday at the North Shore Golf Club in Auckland with a trip to the Singapore Masters up for grabs.

The initiative that is run by New Zealand Golf with the support of HSBC is geared to make the game of golf more accessible for all Kiwis to play in a society that is increasingly time poor.

The concept is working with a 10 percent growth in nine hole membership in 2010 and around 3000 golfers in 2011 playing in the club qualifiers of the HSBC 9 Hole challenge.

The final is the pinnacle of the event where golfers are flown to Auckland, picked up in a shuttle and taken to the North Shore where they play the course in top condition with a chance of becoming a national champion.

In the third year of the event the HSBC 9 Hole challenge was simplified to only five categories to make the tournament easier for the uninitiated to the game of golf to understand.

Those five categories were Men’s and Women’s Gross, Men’s and Women’s Net and Non Affiliated.

Charlie Hillier, of the Te Puke Golf Club in the Bay of Plenty, won the Men’s Gross while local Rowland Griffiths of the North Shore Golf Club claimed the Men’s Net.

Two Cantabrian women Robyn Cruse (Russley GC) and Judy Brown (Amberly GC) won the Women’s Gross and Women’s Net respectively.

The main prize winner was Debbie Holmes from the Mercury Bay Golf Club on the Coromandel.

She won a trip for two to the 2011 HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore complete with business class flights for two, five nights luxury accommodation and corporate hospitality at the event.

“I could not believe my good fortune after my close friend Janice Lee’s name had already been drawn to win a trip for two to Club Med Bali [which was drawn from all entrants to the HSBC 9 Hole challenge]”

“I was shocked to learn that I would be winging my way to Singapore”

“My only concern is that my husband is going to sea in January on a tuna boat until April, so it looks as though I will have to take a friend – May be Janice and I can go together! “

Dean Murphy, the Chief Executive of NZ Golf, who attended the HSBC 9 Hole challenge Final, said the event always has a special atmosphere.

“The tournament has gone incredibly well – beyond our expectations,” said Murphy.

“The growth in participation this year is a fair reflection on the increasing relevance of the 9 hole shortened format of the game.

“The national final is a great occasion and we are pleased that winners from all over the country were able to participate in a national final event. We look forward to the continuing growth of this concept in 2012.”

Marketing Manager Jan Burrows shared that sentiment that the HSBC 9 Hole challenge has come a long way in a short time.

“The whole campaign has been a great success for New Zealand Golf, HSBC and the concept of 9 hole golf,” said Burrows.

“We started in September with events at over 85 clubs, followed by district qualifiers throughout November culminating in a very successful national final. “

HSBC the supporter of the event since its inception were proud to be involved in the tournament in 2011.

Noel McNamara, CEO, HSBC New Zealand said: "Congratulations to all of the winners, it has been exciting to watch the tournament progress over the past three months.

We are delighted to have sponsored the HSBC 9 Hole challenge again and with the level of participation this year. We hope this leads to further growth of the 9 hole format."

2011 HSBC 9 Hole challenge Final Winners:
Non Affiliated - Bob Van Den Berg
Men’s Gross - Charlie Hillier (Te Puke GC)
Men’s Net - Rowland Griffiths (North Shore GC)
Women’s Gross - Robyn Cruse (Russley GC)
Women’s Net - Judy Brown (Amberly GC)



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