Innovation praised by Charles

New Zealand golfing great Sir Bob Charles (85) plays the first shot off the first tee on the new...
New Zealand golfing great Sir Bob Charles (85) plays the first shot off the first tee on the new Wanaka Golf Club short course. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
One of New Zealand’s golfing greats opened a new short course in Wanaka yesterday in the hope it will inspire young people to take up the sport.

The crowd cheered as Sir Bob Charles, winner of the 1963 British Open, hit the first ball from the first tee on to the first green of the new course, opposite the fire station on the Wanaka Golf Club Recreation Reserve.

He then played the five-hole course with five of the club’s youngest players, ranging in age from 6 to 8.

Club chairman David Smallbone said the short course was designed specifically for junior golfers and adult beginners who found the main course ‘‘daunting’’.

He said the course ‘‘was not too long and not too boring’’.

Each hole was short and the cups were oversized to ‘‘make it a bit easier’’.

He said worldwide the number of young people taking up golf as a sport has been declining for the past 30 or 40 years and it was important to maintain the club’s junior golf.

Charles praised Wanaka Golf Club for trying to encourage more people into the game.

He said the average age of the Wanaka Golf club members looked to be more than 50, probably the 60s, and that was the same for just about every golf club in New Zealand.

‘‘We gave got to try to bring the average age down and bring more youth into the club,’’ he said.

Smallbone said the small golf course was not a practice facility and would also be open to the public for a green fee.

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