They do it for love, not money, and readers of the
Otago Daily Times sports pages over the past few
decades should be thankful for that. They are the
long-serving ''stringers'', or contributing writers. In the
first of three profiles, sports editor Hayden Meikle talks to
golf guru Bill Trewern.
Hayden Meikle: Where did you grow up?
Bill Trewern: Dunedin.
HM: Born here?
BT: Born here.
HM: Educated where?
HM: Specifics, please.
BT: St Clair School and Macandrew Intermediate.
HM: No secondary schooling?
BT: Well, I didn't learn anything at secondary school,
ha ha. No, you know where I went to secondary school.
HM: Wait a second. Bill Trewern, Otago Boys' High
School supporter-in-chief, attended King's High School!
BT: Everybody knows that. No need to publish it.
HM: What did your folks do?
BT: We lived in Ings Ave. Mum [Lilian] did the books
for a couple of shops that Dad [Jack] owned. Woollen and
dress shops. He had people running them for him. He was chief
executive of the Wellington Woollen Company for many years,
and latterly Ross and Glendining general manager/chief
executive. Big company.
HM: Were you exposed to golf at an early age?
BT: Yeah, the family played. Both Mum and Dad played -
Mum at St Clair, Dad at Balmac. Dad won the club champs at
Balmac in 1930. His picture's on the wall up there.
HM: Was the old man a pretty good player?
BT: Oh, well, there was no coaching in those days. And
when he got busy with his work, his golf slipped badly. He
had a two-handed grip. No linkage, you know.
HM: Did you caddy for him?
BT: Occasionally. But where I really learned my golf
was between the ages of 10 and about 13, caddying for Ron
Timms, who was the Otago No 1. He later became the club
professional at St Clair for many years. They'd been painting
at our place, and I caddied for his father. He was a great
swinger of the ball - tremendous. I started playing at 11 or
HM: What were you like as a young player?
BT: I actually won my first little junior tournament
on the same day, the same Sunday, that Bob Charles won the
British Open in 1963.
HM: You're making that up.
BT: I am not. It was great. Everyone was talking about
Bob. I was quite lucky because we had a large group of
promising youngsters at the time. I was playing with good
players and my game got better as a result. I got down to
scratch at one stage. And I represented Otago in 10-man,
8-man and 12-man for several years. We won the South Island
under-21 in 1968, I think. Brian Newall, Phil Conlon, Richie
Sutherland and myself in Timaru, at Gleniti.
HM: Which club were you a member of?
BT: St Clair. But when I was at university, I played
HM: When did you peak as a player?
BT: Definitely 1969. I played in the New Zealand Open
in December 1968. I didn't make the cut. Missed by one shot.
You didn't have to qualify in those days because there were
so many places for amateurs. I won the St Clair senior champs
in 1969. Won the Otago foursomes. And got to the semifinals
of the Otago provincial championship.
HM: Then what happened?
BT: In 1970, I did a post-grad thesis on natural
radioactivity. I had to filter dust out of the air and take
half-life readings. I slept some nights in the university, I
was so flat out. Then I met my wife, Ann, at the end of 1970.
I spent 1971 in Christchurch, at Teachers' College, and
didn't play much golf.
HM: So that was it, in terms of your golf playing
BT: My technique wasn't that good. And then it was a lack of
practice. I remember coming out in a tournament at St Clair
in 1973, and I was going to make a comeback. I think I shot
68 in the first round and 83 in the second. I was digging
clubs in the ground. I was so bloody frustrated. And the one
thing I'd always been strong on was the mental game, and
HM: How and when did you get the job covering golf for
the Otago Daily Times?
BT: 1971. Geoff Adams, the future editor, was the
features editor. I did a full page article on statistics,
because I was into maths and physics. I did it to make some
money, because we were skint, coming out of varsity. About
two weeks later, (then sports editor) Dudley Manning rang me
''Oh, Bill, we need a golf correspondent. You're not playing
at the moment. Would you be prepared to do it?'' I started
with a weekly column, ''Golf Gossip''.
HM: And you've been the ODT golf writer since that
BT: Apart from when I was overseas, in 1979. Even
then, I sent back some stories from the British Open.
HM: How do you cover a golf event? What's been your
BT: Normally, you just keep your ear to the ground.
Talk to people. I'm lucky here, because I'm right in the
swim. I like to get a cart and follow the whole final if it's
a matchplay event. In strokeplay, you can go out and watch
someone, and you find out someone else is running hot on
another hole. You're almost best to stay in the clubhouse.
Get copies of the best scorecards. Then look for an
HM: Have you ever really annoyed somebody with
something you've written?
BT: Oh, yes. I had a nickname, Poison Pen, for a
while. That was my pseudonym at the St Clair club. Another
year, they had the South Island champs at Oamaru and I wrote
that it was a bit of a disaster. The loudspeaker was going
when guys were teeing off. They wrote a big letter to the
editor. Another one was in Lawrence. I wrote about ''tinpot
country clubs''. A player had been given an ultimatum to play
in the club championships, not for Otago, or he would
forfeit. He won the club title 14 and 13, over 36 holes, and
we had to do without him in an Otago team that got beaten by
HM: What do you consider to be the heyday of golf
during your years?
BT: The decade immediately after I stopped playing.
That sounds good, doesn't it? From 1972 to 1982. Otago had
three Freyberg wins - 1973, 1978 and 1982. And you won't find
any coverage of the 1978 tournament in the ODT because there
was a massive strike. I came in and there was a picket line
on the street.
HM: And the Charity Classics?
BT: They were great. Having pro tournaments here
really boosted golf in Dunedin, just like the New Zealand
Open at The Hills boosted that area. I can't remember how
many Charity Classics we had, but it was the best part of a
decade, and it finished with the New Zealand Open at St Clair
HM: You saw some pretty good golfers?
BT: Yes. Interviewed Seve Ballesteros. He was very
reticent, quiet. But we were so lucky to get him. They'd
signed him up eight or nine months before, and then he won
some big tournaments. Sam Snead came out. Papwa Sewgolum, the
South African with the two-handed grip. Johnny Miller.
Thomson, Nagle, Charles - all those guys.
HM: Must have been fun.
BT: One memory stands out. They'd put on some beer for
everyone. Someone rang and told the ODT that me and Ken
McLean, who would come out and do the results, were boozing
up and the copy hadn't arrived. But Johnny Miller had been
forced into a playoff. There was a delay, then the playoff. I
couldn't start writing the story, as you can on laptops
today. It was just on hard copy. I had my Imperial typewriter
HM: Have you also coached over the years?
BT: Not really. I use the word ''mentor''. There are
professionals to do the coaching, and we've been lucky to
have some very good ones.
HM: And your teaching career? Where did you
BT: Otago Boys' High School.
HM: Did you look after golf at the school straight
BT: They had a golf master. Ray Smith. He was quite
ill, so I basically took over straight away.
HM: Have you enjoyed working at Otago Boys'?
BT: I've been lucky. I was an assistant teacher, had a
position of responsibility in the science department, year 11
dean, ran the hostel for five years, and then assistant
principal for 17 years. The school has done a lot for me.
HM: What have you taught?
BT: Physics, mathematics, science.
HM: How would you describe your teaching style?
BT: No, I'm very friendly, ha ha. I actually got a
shock when I first went teaching. We were the new brigade
with the coloured pants and the leather jackets and the wide
ties. The fifth formers taught me an early lesson that year,
and every class I've taught has suffered since.
HM: You're retired now?
BT: Part-time. My main interest now is the school
lodge, which is an amazing facility up the West Matukituki
Valley. For many of the kids, it's the highlight of their
years at the school. I didn't have much to do with it in the
early days but I've looked after it since 1994. I go up and
handle the management side of things.
HM: We have to mention Richie McCaw in here.
BT: Yes, taught Richie. I sent him out of class for
HM: But he might have been talking about rugby,
BT: He could have been. Bad luck, ha ha.
HM: Back to golf. You're still enjoying being
BT: Oh, definitely. It gets hard when the kids play
other sports and they get in the way of golf. To really
succeed these days, you need to focus on one. That's sad, in
HM: Greg Turner was your best golfer?
BT: He just had that special something. He actually
left school at the start of the sixth form. The pro at Balmac
offered him a job. I cornered Turner at school and let him
have it. Told him he was leaving school to be a shop
assistant. But Greg saw out the year, then came back to
school, got his qualifications, and went to college in the
States. He was the first of my guys to head over there. Since
then, we've had Thomas Campbell and now Duncan Croudis.
HM: What are the highlights of your time with Otago
BT: Winning two New Zealand titles and going to St
Andrews for the world schools final in 1992 and 1994.
HM: How many of your boys have turned
BT: I've produced about 14 who have made their living
out of the game, either by playing or by working as a club
HM: What roles have you held with Otago golf?
BT: I've managed a lot of junior teams. And my new
role is called convener of teams. I look after uniforms and
finances while we're playing.
HM: And the golf writing? You'll be sticking with it
for a while yet?
BT: Day by day, ha ha.
ODT position: Golf writer.
Held since: 1971.
Family: Married to Ann.
Bill Trewern's dream Otago golfer would
The X FACTOR of Greg Turner.
''He could have played any sport.''
The BALL STRIKING of Mahal Pearce.
''So pure. Best I've seen, by a long shot.''
The MENTAL GAME of Duncan Croudis.
''Very intelligent golfer. Great course management.''
The DETERMINATION of Thomas Campbell.
''Really driven to succeed.''