Golf: Head professional credits members for new job

Allan Court at the Chisholm Park Golf Club. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Allan Court at the Chisholm Park Golf Club. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Being the head professional at Chisholm Park is like having a ''new baby'' for Allan Court.

He has replaced Andrew Whiley, who finished up at the end of April after 12 years in the job.

Court (50) started working alongside Whiley at the club last September, and was ''as surprised as anyone'' when Whiley announced he was leaving at the end of April.

''I came here to work two years with Andrew, but having decided to leave when he did, it was a bit of a shock to the system,'' Court said.

''But that's the way life is. It's like golf - you've just got to play the next shot.''

Court partly credits the time he had working at the club since September for his appointment as head professional.

''I'm stoked. Absolutely stoked,'' he said.

''The club didn't rush into their decision. I put my hand up for the job, I had good support among members, so I'm very fortunate.

''Having that little time here that we did, gave me a chance to meet the members and win them over.''

Court brings a wealth of golfing experience to one of the best links courses in the country.

He did his apprenticeship at Shandon Golf Club in Petone before working there as the head professional and leaving New Zealand in 1989.

Before settling in Dunedin last year, he spent 14 years in China and 12 in Australia.

He had 18 months as the golf programme director at Shanghai Singapore International School, and was a director of instruction at Tomson Golf Club in Shanghai, helping earn hosting rights for the BMW Championship from 2004 to 2008.

He also has experience in developing quality players. New Zealand professional Mark Brown went through his academy at the Shandon Golf Club, while Australian professionals Ewan Porter and Scott Arnold went through his junior development programmes across the Tasman.

Chisholm Park's members had been ''really supportive'' of Court's appointment, something which fostered a sense of ownership, he said.

''It's like having a new baby. There's feeling a bit of ownership and a bit of shaping. One of the reasons I got the job is I spent a bit of time with the members. I did a few coaching programmes. People saw that I have got quite a lot of enthusiasm for the game and they like that.''

One of the first things Court opted to do in his new role was gut the pro shop and start over.

A few walls have been knocked out and, as soon as next week, it will be a spacious area housing everything golfers need.

He also plans to launch a junior clinic on Sunday mornings, where children can learn the game with a range of activities before hitting the putting green and playing nine holes.

Court does not think the club needs to employ another professional, but there is a chance it will take on a trainee at some stage.

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