Golf: Scarcity of youth concerns Duncan

Shelley Duncan
Shelley Duncan
Shelley Duncan, the professional at the Otago Golf Club, which is hosting the men's interprovincial tournament this week, has had plenty of time to reflect on the difference between the status of the men's and women's events.

Duncan, who will coach the Otago women's team at St Clair next week, is concerned about the lack of youth in women's golf, particularly in the South Island and the far North.

''Apart from Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, there are very few young girls playing at this level,'' Duncan said.

''In sharp contrast, I have seen a plethora of talented young men this week.

''At the Balmacewen club we have about 10 girls aged 8 to 10 years who are very keen and enjoy the game but we seem to struggle to keep them in the game.''

Laura Hoskin (17), the Otago No 1, was the only teenaged girl at the club and was moving back to Arrowtown next year, Duncan said.

Duncan also pointed out the discrepancy in playing ability. She thinks the scoring next week will not be anywhere near what she has witnessed this week.

''The handicap ranges are very low in the men's event but there will be players on double-figure handicaps playing at St Clair next week.''

The field for the Toro-sponsored women's event has been weakened by the absence of two of New Zealand's top players.

There is little doubt that crowds would have thronged to St Clair had world No 1 Lydia Ko (Auckland) competed at St Clair, but she will be playing in Taiwan instead.

Waikato's Emily Perry is also on the absentee list, as she is attending the European qualifying school in Spain.

The strength of the field brings into question New Zealand Golf's decision to play next week's event off the standard white teeing grounds rather than the women's yellow tees.

''I think people want to come and watch pars and birdies but we may see many of the players struggling to achieve this,'' Duncan said.

''With the current depth in women's golf there will only be a small percentage of the players who are able to achieve those scores.''