Ball or nothing . .. Junior golfers from all over New Zealand will compete in Timaru at the National Age Group Tournament starting August 30. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

Timaru Golf Club will welcome 144 junior golfers from all over New Zealand at the end of the month.

The club is hosting the under-16 and under-19 boys’ and girls’ national championships.

The club hosted the women’s inter-provincial two years ago and the New Zealand masters event five years ago.

Club president Mike Hogan said Timaru was a championship course and ideally suited to hold a late August competition.

‘‘We are a quick-draining course and located on an alluvial plain. I think that is a big reason we were shoulder-tapped to host it.’’

The competition will take place over three days beginning on August 30 and will involve just over 100 boys and about 40 girls.

He said those numbers were reflective of the men and women playing golf in New Zealand.

Players play a round on the Wednesday and Thursday then there is a cut and the top 20 in each of the boys’ divisions and the top 10 in each of the girls’ divisions will play the final round on the Friday morning.

‘‘It’s a great opportunity for anybody in South Canterbury and outlying areas to come watch all of the finest juniors ’cause they’re all here.’’

Rub of the green . . . Timaru golf club has hosted three national level championships in the past five years.

Mr Hogan hoped the tournament would inspire younger golfers in the area.

‘‘It’s important for aspiring young golfers to see 14, 15 and 16-year-olds hit the ball like these kids can.

‘‘It makes it more real for them and more achievable than some adult hitting, thinking that’s too far away. But if they’re 10 and think ‘man, some 14-year-old is doing that, maybe I can’.’’

He added that another part of the reason they accepted was the responsibility to promote the game within the local area and he believed this was an ideal opportunity to do that.

Aorangi will be represented by local competitors Mac Kelliher, of Pleasant Point, and Thomas Clayson, of Geraldine.

‘‘It is a wee bit of a shame we don’t have more, we are hoping that with kids watching this event there might be a few more in the years to come.

‘‘These are top performers and many will have eyes on a professional contract, they enjoy playing in big events and there is nothing bigger than a New Zealand championships, if they’ve got a crowd to match as well then we are creating a stage for them to show off their wares.’’

Because of the size of the event the club had called on up to 60 members to act as volunteers doing tasks like running the golf shop, organising catering and collecting the hundreds of balls hit on the practice range.

The club is also having to supply upwards of 80 trundlers as the majority of the competitors are coming from the North Island.

‘‘It’s going to be a good week, we just need some good weather so fingers crossed for that.’’

The players will tee off at 7.30am on the Wednesday and Thursday and conclude the day about 3.30pm.

Mr Hogan said there was absolutely no cost to spectate and to just ‘‘rock on up’’.

The club was hoping to grow its ageing membership and recapture the attention of younger players.

‘‘We’re looking at how do we capture everybody’s needs in golf. Advice from New Zealand Golf is young people want to come play nine holes, have a cart, zip around and be done in an hour and a-half max. We’ve got to cater for that.

‘‘Golf takes a long time to play

— around four hours a round — and a lot of young people don’t want to spend that time now.’’

The club is also dedicated to growing the women’s game further and for the past six years has been running a women 6’s programme every Monday night. The club is looking to implement an equivalent for juniors and men in spring.