Golf: Looking forward to return

Otago golfer Tony Giles practising at the St Clair club yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago golfer Tony Giles practising at the St Clair club yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Tony Giles never really went away.

He just put down his clubs for a while. More than 10 years, in fact.

But the former Otago No 1 is now back in representative golf and will play at No 5 for the Otago team at next month's interprovincial championship in Dunedin.

Giles (40) said he had never really retired but dropped out of representative golf to concentrate on family and work.

"But when they have the interprovincial champs back down here, I thought it was a good chance to get back into some representative golf. You don't have to travel so far and it is not so much of a time commitment," he said.

Giles started playing at the start of the year and did enough to earn his place in the Otago team. He will be first on the course in the championships to be played at the Otago Golf Club from December 4-8.

"Did I miss it? Some things I missed. The thrill of the competition and all the good people you play with.

"You don't miss the politics. The thing is, golf is a good game where you get to meet so many good people."

He still played the occasional game of golf while he was off the scene but not at the level he will be playing at next month.

Giles first played for Otago as a teenager in the 1988-89 season, playing out of the Lawrence club, where he grew up.

He then came to Dunedin and continued to play for Otago, spending many years at No 1 for Otago through the 1990s.

He was part of the Otago side which got to the final of the interprovincial the last time it was in the South, in 1998.

The Otago side lost to Wellington in the final that year and Giles is keen to go one better next month. He feels playing at Balmacewen will suit the home team.

"It is a good risk-and-reward course and you've got to be fit to get round it. A bit of local knowledge will always help."

He felt the undulating nature would also work to the locals' advantage.

The Otago side is led by Brent McEwan at No 1, followed by Michael Smith, Samson Kim and Brandon Hodgson.

Giles, who is a member at St Clair, is more than happy to be charging out at No 5, first golfer off the tee in the teams event.

"It will be the first time I would have played at No 5 and I'm looking forward to it. In some ways the pressure is not the same. It is not like being at the top of the order when the pressure really goes on.

"Being at No 5, you just go out and play and then when you're finished, help your team-mates out."

Giles has been slowly working into his game and trying to hit as many balls as possible when time allows.

"When you have been away from the game for a while you start to pick up some bad habits. But I'm a pretty relaxed person on the whole. I try not to get too tensed up about things."

Giles has turned to the expertise of Dunedin golf coach Alan Rose and the duo have been sorting out his swing and play around the greens.

Giles is general manager of Alexto Sports, a sporting goods business in Dunedin, and he and wife Camille have two children, Tayla (9) and Noah (7).