Sunday, 26 May 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Getting into the swing of things

At just 10 years of age, Ivan Adams’s promising rugby career came to an abrupt halt. A former Mercury Bay Rugby Club Player of the Year in the junior grades, Ivan suffered what doctors suspected was a brain aneurysm in February 2018. Ongoing neurological tests over the following six months eventually cleared Ivan of any permanent health issues, but at that stage the decision to hang up his rugby boots permanently had already been made. 

In fact, by the time playing a contact sport was no longer an option, Ivan had fully committed himself to the game of golf. It turned out to be an easy and straightforward transition. He possesses an almost natural gift for the game, along with a strong determination to become the best player he can be.

Ivan wasn’t put off either by the fact he was the youngest player by a country mile when he joined the Mercury Bay Golf Club (MBGC). There was little option but to play alongside many older golfers who not only towered over him in terms of physical size, but had played the game for a lot longer than his age. “The older players are great to play with” says Ivan. “It’s one of the great things about the game of golf, age doesn’t really matter. It’s more about playing against others on a similar handicap, plus the older players put their past experience to good use, which really helps my game.”

Ivan is a hard trainer. He hits a few hundred balls most days and has dropped his handicap by 14 shots in less than 12 months.

In September last year, Ivan became the youngest player in history to win the MBGC’s Super Junior Division Match Play Championship (for players with a handicap of 24 and higher). He then progressed onto the US Kids Tour in Auckland, a competitive age-restricted series of tournaments, which meant regular travel every second weekend. He managed to finish second in his first two outings, only just beaten by a highly-regarded player who had competed in America before.

From there, Ivan’s focus changed to the prestigious North Island Under 13 Golf Championship in January this year, which drew a field from as far south as Invercargill. Having just turned 11, Ivan was one of the youngest golfers in the field, finishing mid pack. It was all part of the wider experience and Ivan and his family came away knowing what parts of Ivan’s game needed improvement. “I will become a senior player in this tournament over the next couple of years and will be able to put all my past experience to good use,” says Ivan.

Ivan’s achievements have not gone unnoticed with a recent invitation from North Harbour Golf to play at the Lydia Ko tournament at Gulf Harbour. “I was very excited to get the opportunity to play in another age-restricted tournament against some tough competition,” says Ivan. “I finished in seventh place, which confirmed my ongoing improvement.”

Back home, Ivan is at the moment competing in the MBGC’s Stroke Play Championships, sitting second after two rounds. He also received the call-up to play for the Ngahinapouri Golf Club in the Junior Waikato Under 19 Pennants, where he won his match against players several years his senior.

Life doesn’t get any less busy for Ivan in the months ahead. In September he will travel to Queenstown to represent Mercury Bay at the New Zealand Under 13 Championships.

To help with expenses, Ivan’s family organized a raffle, which will hopefully ease the financial burden placed on the family. Prizes include a romantic accommodation package valued at $600, a two-hour Cathedral Cove tour on board the Glass Bottom Boat valued at $210, a 90-minute geothermal swim valued at $80 at The Lost Spring and a $100 voucher from Salt Restaurant.

Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at Baileys Motel on Buffalo Beach Road in Whitianga or at the MBGC. 

Ivan will also be outside Countdown Whitianga this coming Thursday (18 April), selling tickets from 11:00am.     

If first impressions are anything to go by, then Ivan has lot going for him in life. For an 11-year-old, he represents his family, his community and the game of golf extremely well and extremely professionally.

Rugby’s loss has definitely been golfs gain.         

Ivan has a spare set of golf clubs and would like to extend an invitation to any other juniors keen to give golf a go, to join him for some hits. Phone 866 5500 to talk to Ivan or his parents to arrange a suitable time.

Pictured: Eleven-year-old Ivan Adams will represent Mercury Bay at the New Zealand Under 13 Golf Championships in Queenstown in September this year.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.