Ashburton College’s golf team has qualified for the national secondary schools’ championships for the first time in more than a decade.
The team of Brent Kirdy, Wilson Hii, Josh Ackerley and Brayden Wood took on a strong side from Christchurch’s St Andrew’s College at the Templeton Golf Club on Monday, with the winner off to September’s nationals.
After a long day of golf in miserable conditions, Ashburton College came out on top – meaning they became the first Ashburton College side to head to the nationals since 2005 when a side spearheaded by Daniel Pearce took on the country’s best young golfers.
Aorangi Golf community golf manager Malcolm Wood said the rules had changed in terms of who could compete at the nationals in a bid to ensure the quality of the field taking part. That meant that the winners of the Aorangi region’s secondary school golf title now had to take on the third qualifying team from Christchurch and win to earn the right to attend.
For Ashburton College to win the Aorangi title was big, given the competition had been dominated by Timaru’s Roncalli College in recent years, and for them to then go on and topple a quality Christchurch school side was huge, Wood said.
Wood said St Andrew’s had two players on sub-10 handicaps and another in the low teens, but conditions on Monday were wet and miserable, and Ashburton College’s young side handled the conditions better.
“The boys weren’t that sure about themselves going up there and playing them because they have some talent up there,” Wood said. “But they pulled one out of the bag and beat them.”
Wood said it was a particularly special win for Kirdy, who was in his last year of secondary school. Kirdy’s handicap heading into the match was 7.9, while Ackerley’s was 8.4, Wood’s was 12.9 and Hii’s was 25.9.
Ackerley produced the day’s best score, shooting a round of 78, while Kirdy shot an 84. The best three scores counted towards the overall result, with Ashburton College’s total of 265 beating St Andrew’s on 270.
Wood said Aorangi Golf would assist Ashburton College with additional coaching ahead of the national secondary school champs in Hastings in September.
He said the competition on the national stage would be tough. When Roncalli attended last year they faced a team featuring a player whose handicap was plus-5.
“All four of their team were sub-three handicaps, so you are getting the best of the best.”
– Erin Tasker