Returning home to tee-off

BEN STRANG
Last updated 16:30 05/02/2013
Paul Devenport
KAPITI OBSERVER

Home turf: Paul Devenport chips on to the first green in today’s pro-am tournament at Paraparaumu Beach.

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A part time pro - and occasional card trickster - is hoping to weave his magic as one of the attractions at today's pro-am golf tournament at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club.

Former Paraparaumu Beach tour pro Paul Devenport, who forged a successful pro career in Canada and Australia in the 90s and early 2000s - and was known for entertaining the field with card tricks during breaks - is playing his first round of golf at the club for nearly 10 years in today's pro-am.

Having played his last year on the pro tour in 2005, Devenport has settled down with his wife in Victoria, Canada, and is now a hardwood floor installer.

He had four wins on the Canadian Tour, and made a good living playing the Australian Tour, but now plays only six or seven rounds a year, he said.

''I'm more of a part-time sort of pro nowadays,'' he said.

''I still have my pro card but ... it's just for a couple of tournaments with my buddies. I'll have a couple of rounds where I think, 'yeah, this is like the old me', but otherwise I'm very scratchy.''

Devenport started playing golf aged 14, while living next to the 13th hole at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. He found his father's clubs, and decided to go and have a hit.

As his interest grew, his dad decided to get him coached.

''I would play every day when I got home from [Paraparaumu] college. I'd walk across to the 17th, and play the 17th and 18th, then go to the practice tee.

''Then I'd go to the 10th and play 10, 11 and 12, and finish up on 13. That was my routine every day.''
His regular practice started to show, with his talent increasing and handicap dropping.

When he was 15, the club pro Glen Morrison convinced him to play in the 1987 New Zealand Open at Heretaunga.

Three-time major winner Larry Nelson played in the tournament but was beaten by Irishman Ronan Rafferty for the title.

Having played alongside the likes of Sir Bob Charles in that tournament, Devenport said he had gone on to play alongside Tiger Woods, Ernie Else, and others.

''When you look back on it, it's pretty amazing. I mean, I met Nelson Mandela when I was playing in South Africa.
''At the time it was cool, but now you think, 'wow. I should have taken a camera'.''

On the circuit, Devenport was also known for his talent with cards. During delays in play, he would pull out a pack of playing cards and do the occasional trick to entertain his playing partners.

''I became interested in magic more on the tour. If we had a wait for 10 minutes, my buddies would ask me to get the cards out and do a trick.

''[Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club manager] Leo [Barber] asked me to whip out some card tricks for the pro-am. I haven't played golf since July last year, and it's the same with magic. I'm a bit rusty.''

Devenport had been looking forward to playing at Paraparaumu Beach, and seeing the changes to the course.
For results of the pro-am, see Monday's Kapiti Observer.

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