Pearce to be public face of the sport

New Golf Otago chief executive Mahal Pearce at St Clair Golf Club yesterday. Photo: Linda Robertson
New Golf Otago chief executive Mahal Pearce at St Clair Golf Club yesterday. Photo: Linda Robertson
Former New Zealand Open champion Mahal Pearce has been appointed as chief executive of Golf Otago, replacing Doug Harradine who is retiring after 11 years in the position.

Golf Otago chairman Peter Devine was impressed by the quality, skill-set and the number of candidates who applied for the position.

''Golf Otago would have been well served by a number of the applicants but the panel believed that Mahal is well prepared to carry out the duties and advance golf in the province,'' he said.

''He will become the public face of golf in Otago and will be based in an office at Sport Otago.

''He will serve the 49 clubs and 9000 golfers in Otago and will be required to reach out to comunity, business and not-for-profit groups to fund specific programmes including junior golf, the representative team development and tournament expenses.''

Pearce (43) started playing golf as an 11-year-old at Port Chalmers where he was coached by the late Ivan Forgie.

Upon entering Otago Boys' High School, Pearce was already a talented single-figure player and he thrived in the competition for team places.

In his final year, he led the school team to win the national intercollegiate in Wellington and qualify to compete in the world final at St Andrews in Scotland.

He shot 71 on the Jubilee course and was close to par on the Old Course to finish as second individual and ensure Otago Boys' finished as runner-up to French team Lycee Bellevue.

He left school and represented Otago for the next five years before moving to Wellington in 1997.

He won the New Zealand under-23 title in 1997 before turning professional in October 1997.

The highlight of his career came on the Middlemore course in Auckland in 2003 when he finished strongly to win the New Zealand Open.

He was in peak form at the time and finished third in the Jacobs Creek tournament in Adelaide three weeks later.

Pearce has already been involved with Golf Otago and is a senior and junior selector as well as managing the junior team which finished second at Cambridge last year.

He has a varied work history having worked at Clive Wilson Switchboards when he left school.

When he moved to Wellington, he worked for Hertz Rental cars at the airport before going on the tour for the next five years.

He currently works at Telfer Electrical and is scheduled to take up his new role with Golf Otago in July.

Although he will be keenly involved with the amateur scene, Pearce intends to hold on to his professional status.

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