Golfing teens behaving badly

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 02/05/2013

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OPINION: While wandering through the trees during the New Zealand amateur golf at Hokowhitu last week, it was evident a variety of emotions were at work.

Probably 80 per cent of the players were teenagers in the biggest national event of the season, and for many it got to them.

Most were uber-talented and many could not believe their rotten luck when they played a poor shot.

So the word of the times, "eff", was rampant. Some of it was muffled, but when there wasn't a gallery it wasn't, and for those of us who watch rugby matches every Saturday, hardly an otological offence.

For many of us, our internal combustion engines occasionally combust, at ourselves; for others, they hold it in and melt down anyway. But this was a top event where you would expect players to be at their professional best.

Often effing was directed at their caddies, and more often than not they were their fathers. And the fathers blindly took it instead of giving the borats a thick ear.

Among "discussions" I overheard were about an umbrella and the clubhouse having run out of pies, as in healthy fodder for young golfers!

There were the same paters who had probably paid for the kids' stiff-shaft clubs and all of their golf expenses in recent years, as well as their travel to Manawatu.

But paternal familiarity breeds contempt. The easiest way out is to let the borats carry or push their own bags or have a fellow player do the job.

In the men's final there appeared to be harmony between winner Kadin Neho and his caddie, fellow Northland player Lee Neumann.

I saw one guy who had given up. He was walking quickly to his ball, almost hitting it on the run, and paying the price.

A calm dude was the country's top amateur, Vaughan McCall, from deepest Gore. He had a horrible duffed putt just off the 18th green and lost his quarterfinal match, yet somehow retained his composure when others would have self-immolated.

A few days beforehand, the Junior Tiger national finals were held at Hokowhitu. So the story goes, a young player went off his swede and the parent who was caddying simply up and abandoned trundler.

That instantly disqualified the player because he had to have a parent or guardian on his bag. Hopefully, it was a lesson learnt.

These players are the exceptions and, being youths, they feel the pressure when it comes to the NZ Amateur. That's understandable, but it doesn't prevent them showing the course respect. And yet they inflict more wounds on the fairways and tee blocks than do those golfers who are unkindly known as hackers. Many players who just walked on without replacing divots the size of dinner plates deserved to have officials dash after them with a shovel suggesting they return and do a bit of gardening.

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■ There was a Manawatu connection for the 14-year-old blonde girl who appeared singing a Taylor Swift song on The X Factor on Sunday night.

She was Cassie Henderson who has lived around the world because her father is a professional rugby coach.

And there standing back stage with the craggy features stood Murray Henderson, the father, and former Marist, Kia Toa and Manawatu captain-flanker from the mid-1980s. Now coaching in Japan, he looked suitably proud.

■ When the ever genial Josef Schmidt was home in June, he said he didn't have great rugby coaching ambitions and would even be happy to return to school teaching.

But his wave of success has carried him to become an international coach with Ireland. Even his job with Leinster came from a phone call out of the blue.

He recently appeared on TV in Dublin on The Late Late Show to raise awareness of, not rugby, but epilepsy.

His journey hasn't been easy because he and wife Kelly have had to care for 9-year-old son Luke who has epilepsy after having a brain tumour removed when they were in France.

- Manawatu Standard

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