By Pauline Stewart
In December this year, just two weeks away, Wild Wood will host the first international open sports tournament to be held In Whitianga. It is the Mini Golf Open Championships and competitors from throughout New Zealand will be participating, including some from Australia. The mini golf community is very excited. The dates are Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December.
As part of the preparations for this Open tournament, a Putting Tour has been underway with eight stops around New Zealand. Whitianga was the second to last stop, and hosted the event on 13 October. Participating in the putting tour, was a lead up to the tournament especially for professional and amateur sections.The competing sections are: Professional, Amateur and Adult/Youth, plus this year there is a Senior category and a Parent/Child category (up to 13 years), which is in essence a team.
“We have 21 registered, says Chrissie Robinson, co-owner with Darren Prole, “But in the next two weeks there will be many more and we hope locals will register. “We can take a limited number of entries on the opening day,” says Chrissie. $1,000 is the first prize and there are cash prizes for each category, plus medals and a trophy. On opening Saturday, check-in and practise is from 9.00am and tee-off is at 10.00am. A catered lunch is offered at 1.00pm for all who have registered and 2.00pm is the conclusion for all competitors, except the professional level players. The tournament for their level will continue into the Sunday, as they have eight full rounds to play.
Darren was New Zealand Mini Golf champion and he says, “I lost my title of New Zealand Champion last year, but I am very keen to reclaim it in December, on my home turf at Wildwood, Whitianga.” Chrissie will also be entering the Open at another level.“I’m an enthusiast,” she says, “Mini golf is for everyone. There isn’t a target market.”
Programme features at Wildwood
On Sunday afternoons from 4.00pm to 5.30pm, it’s the Social Club at Wild Wood. Adults bring a drink of alcohol and enjoy a game of mini golf. The first time is free and with just $10 a game, it is very affordable.
Youth coaching: “Mini golf requires concentration, so the game is good for children, says Darren. “When I coach, I like to give players some tips for their game.” Wild Wood offers kids one on one coaching after school, on Wednesdays and Thursday’s. Darren is training some competing in the open mini golf tournament.(Cost is $100 for 10 weeks - 8 years +)
Birthday Parties and Corporate Events: Wildwood has an alcohol licence so it helps with the company Christmas party” says Chrissie.
House tournaments: Locals come as teams and compete against each other. These run for 6 weeks
Chrissie and Darren are looking forward to a really busy Summer and their mini-gold course is looking more than ready.