November huge month, Covid permitting

Shelley Duncan has been too busy this week to contemplate the awful prospect of the Otago Golf Club’s big bash being ruined.

The Balmacewen-based club, the oldest and arguably most influential in the southern hemisphere, is to hold its 150th anniversary celebrations in November.

That is presuming the Covid-19 situation has been sorted, of course, and Duncan, the club’s general manager, hopes the alert level number will be nice and low well before the November 19-21 celebrations.

‘‘It needs to get to Level 1 for us to go ahead,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s the reality. At Level 2, it just wouldn’t work very well.

‘‘We haven’t looked that far ahead. We wouldn’t want to postpone it, but if it came to that, so be it.

‘‘Hopefully, it’s not going to be a problem but we’ll have to wait and see.’’

The Otago club was founded in 1871 with Charles Ritchie Howden, the father of New Zealand golf, the driving force.

‘‘He brought golf from Scotland to Dunedin, and basically initiated the first club in this part of the world,’’ Duncan said.

‘‘We’re very proud of that.

‘‘A lot of the golf clubs that came after us took our rules. They literally came to Otago and asked for the rule book.

‘‘There’s a lot of great history at this club. You look at the trophy cabinet and photos around the wall, our New Zealand reps, both male and female — it’s pretty cool.’’

Anniversary celebrations will include golf and a Glenroy cocktail party on November 19, golf and a town hall dinner on November 20, and golf and a barbecue on November 21.

About 200 people were expected for the main dinner, and about 140 had signed up for the golf, Duncan said.

Registrations via the club’s website remain open until October 1.

The golf will include competition for the St Andrew’s Cross, first awarded in 1872 and understood to be the oldest golf medal outside the United Kingdom.

New Zealand great Sir Bob Charles, who was just 17 when he made his New Zealand Open debut at Balmacewen in 1953, is coming for the celebrations, while there is talk of a special guest sending a video message.

It will, Covid permitting, be a huge month for the club.

Before the 150th celebrations, Balmacewen hosts the New Zealand amateur championship, for men and women, on November 1-7.

For now, Duncan and her team are frantically swinging back into gear as golf is allowed to resume under Level 3 restrictions.

‘‘It’s gone nuts. We opened up tee times and they were filling within minutes.’’

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