Warner exits key golf role

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 08/11/2012
Sam Warner
Sam Warner

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After almost seven years as the face of the Palmerston North Golf Club, club professional Sam Warner is leaving to take a well-earned break.

He has sold his business to Manawatu-Wanganui performance and development manager Stephen Wood.

When Warner, 31, took over the pro shop from Andre White in April 2006, he was understood to be the youngest head pro in the country, aged 24.

But after close to 10 years at Brightwater, Warner needs a break.

"I felt the time was right to move on," he said. "It's a big job, lots of long hours.

"I have nothing in the pipeline. I will have a two to three-month holiday, then have a look around.

"I leave on really good terms."

After his brother John went to Auckland, it left him without a staff member, although club members helped out to give him days off or to do coaching.

"If I didn't do it now, I could quite comfortably stay on here for 10 to 15 years," Warner said.

He finishes on November 26 and Wood finishes with the Manawatu-Wanganui Golf Association on November 23.

White had been at Palmerston North for 13 years and in 2005 brought then staff member and trainee Warner back from the Feilding Golf Club where he had worked after Brandon Perry retired. Soon after, White decided to concentrate solely on his work at the Manawatu Golf Club and sold out at Palmerston North to Warner.

Warner has lived in Palmerston North since he was 13, played pennants for the club and age-group golf for Manawatu-Wanganui.

He soon worked out the life of a playing professional wasn't for him. He would watch Tim Wilkinson, now on the web.com Tour tour in the United States, working out at Palmerston North with White.

"You get an understanding for how amazing those guys are. You have to be pretty darn good."

Wood, 37, was originally from Whanganui but since he was 17 has lived all over New Zealand and New South Wales.

He did his apprenticeship at Terrey Hills and Balgowlah in Sydney and was head pro at Glenmore Heritage Valley west of Sydney from 2003 to 2005. As the third-ranked trainee in Australia, he had earned his Australasian playing card for 2001-02 but got only limited starts and looking back, he said "it was purely a holiday".

An injured hand, caused by joint degeneration, has stopped him playing.

"So it was always going to be down this pathway," he said.

He arrives with an excellent record with Manawatu-Wanganui teams and long-term might expand his coaching in the elite area, through schools and perhaps Massey University. Now he coaches Levin's Tyler and Brydie Hodge, Alex Whiley and Manawatu's Emma Clayton.

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The Palmerston North club has had its financial problems, but Wood likes the look of the board.

"They seem to have turned things around."

PNGC professionals: Sam Warner, Andre White, Steve Charles, Kent Shanly, Craig Roberts, Stu Tunnicliffe, Graham Hewer, Doug Machray, I Young, J Watt (November 1970).

- Manawatu Standard

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