Kiwi golf legend Greg Turner makes a top-level comeback
next week at the tender age of 49, nine years after bowing out
of professional play. Turner lines up at the New Zealand Open
at the Clearwater club in Christchurch as he considers whether
to join the seniors tour in Europe, where he won four times
during a career that brought 12 tournament wins worldwide. He
takes a few questions from his Queenstown home.
What has been your preparation for the NZ Open?
I've played a bit more golf in recent weeks with my
12-year-old son who is as keen as mustard, and also a
tournament at Harewood in Christchurch. I've been getting a
couple of hours in most days but I'm a long way from being in
What has kept you busy over the past few years?
Our course design business, being a dad, a role on the local
high school board ... the main focus has been the design
business with projects in Wellington, Christchurch and the
What is the Clearwater course setup and will it suit
It's been a long time since I played there ... it never
really suited my eye but that's the challenge of playing. The
wind is always a factor there and being spring the rough will
Your chances and aims of winning it for a third time?
I was pleasantly surprised at Harewood - I hit a lot more
good shots than I expected but clearly lacked sharpness. I
have no right to many expectations but this will give me a
benchmark and if I can build on how I played at Harewood I
have a chance of playing four days.
Are you definitely set to play on the senior tour in
I haven't decided. I can utilise the exemptions from 18 years
on that tour but wouldn't want to go back unless I felt I had
a chance to do okay. Playing in the Open is part of that
Could this mean a life on the road again?
To a point - although I have no interest in heading back
fulltime. Next winter doesn't look very busy on the design
front, and I need to look at some new courses. There would be
no harm in reacquainting myself with competitive golf,
especially with the business advantages of being in Europe.
It adds up to a reasonable case for exploring the senior
Your favourite career memory/achievement?
I have very fond memories of the Presidents Cup - I have a
soft spot for team golf. That said, I didn't win often enough
for any of my titles not to have been special.
When I won my first tournament in Europe a (nameless) playing
partner had an embarrassing moment early in the second round
- his rush to a portaloo came up a bit short. As the round
went on the sun got hotter, I kept making birdies, the
gallery kept getting bigger and bigger. By the end of the day
it was 30 degrees, I was 10 under and leading, the crowd was
Any major golfing regrets?
I don't do regrets.
Tiger Woods - is there any chance he can equal the Jack
Nicklaus mark of 18 majors, or is the game up on that
I'd be surprised if he doesn't surpass the Nicklaus record.
Rory McIlroy - what is the potential, and can anyone ever
post Nicklaus/Woods-type numbers in the majors again?
Who knows - he's clearly exceptional but maintaining that
level for that long when you are earning that much loot will
Who had the best swing you've seen?
I really liked Nick Faldo's swing under David Leadbetter's
coaching. It wasn't a powerful move but looked unlikely to
falter under the acid ... his margin for error was enormous
which seemed to me - at least at the time - to be pretty
The maddest or funniest playing partner?
(Zimbabwean) Tony Johnstone was hilarious. He was always
close to completely losing it but always in a
self-deprecating way. He was merciless in mocking himself.
Do you watch a lot of golf on TV - what floats your
The Ryder Cup is always great to watch, and so is the final
stretch in the majors. Other than that I find it a little
Where do you stand on the broomstick putter debate?
No strong opinion one way or the other.
Is there something major you would like to change in
We have to sort out the distance problem at the elite level.
Players hit the ball too far which has made golf
one-dimensional and taken the artistry away. There are
flow-on effects such as the need for bigger courses, which is
expensive, all for the sake of a few at the top. A
recognition by the authorities of the problem would be a good
start. I'd also like to see the distinction between amateur
and professional scrapped. It is archaic and has a
particularly negative impact in a small, isolated place like
Are you amazed at Lydia Ko's achievements and what are her
hurdles in the professional ranks?
For someone so young to retain such poise is extraordinary.
Her challenge will be maintaining that intensity.
Could New Zealand's player development be better - should
we produce more stars?
Absolutely. We do a decent job but still haven't been nearly
bold enough in challenging the status quo. The harsh truth:
most of the Kiwis who have succeeded have done so in spite of
being from NZ. Unless we push the envelope, not much will