Golf: Laying of new green 'labour of love'

St Clair green keeper Andrew Hobbs relaxes on his mower in front of the new 18th green yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
St Clair green keeper Andrew Hobbs relaxes on his mower in front of the new 18th green yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
''A labour of love'' is how St Clair green keeper Andrew Hobbs describes the laying of the new 18th green which will test the putting skills of the players in the women's interprovincial tournament at St Clair.

Work on the new green began in mid-May and Hobbs estimated more than 900 hours had gone into its construction.

''This includes a tremendous input by volunteer club members who have made a huge difference in preparing the course for this event,'' Hobbs said.

''One member, Dave Sharp, has been around the course every morning repairing pitch marks, which has really improved the putting surfaces."

In order to shape the green and get the surrounding contours right, they shifted a mammoth 2700 tonnes of earth over a seven-day period in May.

''The new green not only provides a range of pin placements but will give a variety of putts which players will need to read well,'' Hobbs said.

The course is in pristine condition and Hobbs admitted he worked 71 hours last week to ensure St Clair is at its best. He has also received support from other greens staff with Gary Creedy (North Otago), Michael Minty (Island Park) and Phil Bungard (St Clair) pitching in to help in the preparation.

Hobbs (42) has been involved in his trade for 26 years, starting as an apprentice at Harewood in Christchurch in 1986.

Since then he has worked at Terrace Downs, Pukekohe and Templeton before contracting out to four Christchurch courses with his father, Finn.

Hobbs is a talented golfer, having played 130 games for Canterbury before moving to St Clair nine years ago.

He has represented Otago in four interprovincial tournaments and has played in the past two masters (over-40) interprovincials for Otago.

His best result was emerging unbeaten with six wins and a half in the 1997 tournament at Balmacewen.

He has been a member of two Canterbury winning teams - in 1998, at North Shore, and in 2000, at Otatara, where he captained the team.

Also in 1998, Hobbs beat Mahal Pearce to win the South Island title in tough conditions on the Oreti Sands course in Invercargill.

In that same year he was runner-up to Wellington's Martin Pettigrew in the New Zealand strokeplay championship.