Golf: Competitive streak takes over

St Clair golf shop assistant Phillip Bungard is keen to return to competition golf. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
St Clair golf shop assistant Phillip Bungard is keen to return to competition golf. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Phillip Bungard, a shop assistant at the St Clair golf shop, is jumping out of his skin to get back to playing competitive golf.

Bungard (27) moved to St Clair three years ago to take up a trainee apprenticeship as a professional golfer under the guidance of club professional Neal Metcalfe.

But watching his mates play in the men's interprovincial event at Balmacewen last week, and being at the hub of organisation for the women's tournament this week, has made him more determined to play plenty of competitive golf.

Bungard has applied to regain his amateur status but, as he accepted prize money in trainee championships, he cannot return to amateur competition until September next year.

''I just want to get back to playing plenty of golf and would like to represent Otago again in the Toro tournament,'' he said.

Bungard played in the Otago top quintet at Mt Maunganui in 2007 and Greenacres in Nelson the following year.

He started playing golf in Omarama at the age of 10 and played most of his schoolboy golf on the North Otago course after his family moved to Oamaru.

When he left school he studied a turf course management course in Cromwell before becoming the assistant green keeper at Chisholm Park. His greenkeeping skills have come in handy in recent weeks as he has assisted in the preparation of the course for the interprovincial.

Bungard enjoys working at St Clair and hopes he can continue to work at the club, despite ditching his apprenticeship.

Otago has lost many talented golfers in recent years but there are two other former Otago representatives who are going against the trend and returning home.

Former No 1 Cameron Beel returns from a green keeping stint in the United States while Mark Brooks has also returned from overseas to work in Central Otago.