Next generation to the fore

Last updated 12:15 29/08/2013

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Two household names of New Zealand golf will headline next week's New Zealand secondary schools final and the New Zealand age-group championships in Christchurch.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Turner - the son of two-time New Zealand Open Champion Greg - will make his debut in a national tournament when he represents Queenstown Resort College at the secondary schools final at Templeton Golf Club.

The Otago rep will also play the Harewood Golf Club for the age-group championship - the course his dad redesigned in 2012 alongside design partner Scott McPherson.

He will be joined by 14-year-old Charlie Smail, the son of Japan Tour professional David Smail, at the age-group championship as the sons of two NZ golf legends follow in their father's footsteps.

Jack, who plays off a 10.3 handicap at the Queenstown Golf Club, is excited to play his first national tournament.

''I'm looking forward to them,'' he said. ''I haven't played in any tournaments this big so I'm just trying to learn from them.''

Charlie, who plays off a 6.7 handicap at the Walton Golf Club in the Waikato, is a more seasoned competitor and is looking to contend for the title.

''I hope to do my best and if I play well I will have a chance to win the under 15 division,'' he said.

As you'd expect both lads have had plenty of tuition from their fathers.

''He has helped me heaps,'' Jack said.

''He gives me the odd tip and plays with me a bit.''  

Charlie, who has caddied for his dad in a few New Zealand Opens, said he has played a big role in his game.

''I have played golf with dad a few times and he encourages me to do my best.''

Both Greg Turner and David Smail are proud to see their boys take up the game at a competitive level but there is no pressure or expectation on performance.

''The important thing from my perspective is that he really enjoys the game,'' said Turner, who recently finished tied fifth on the Senior European Tour.

''The decision to play golf was and is entirely his and its pleasing to see him developing quite quickly.

"That said, he has played very little competitive golf so this will be a pretty intimidating arena for him. It really is the deep end - so I'd be happy for him just to float rather than swim.''

Smail, speaking from Japan, said: ''It's great he's progressed so fast with his golf, in under two years he has achieved a level of golf most people could only dream of.

"He really loves playing and learning about all aspects of the game. It reminds me of myself at that same age.   

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''Of course I hope he goes really well at the age group Champs, and I'm sure he will. He has a great determination and has been looking forward to this event for a long time now.''   

When asked if he saw any of his own game in young Jack's golf, Turner said:  ''As Peter O'Malley said to him recently: 'You've got a damn sight better backswing than your old man ever had'."

Both Jack and Charlie want to follow their Dad's successful careers in the professional ranks. The early signs are encouraging.

Turner and Smail both said they were pleased to see their boys taking on the challenge of elite level golf.

  ''Absolutely - it is a lot of fun,'' said Turner.

''While I'm pleased he's showing some aptitude I'm even more pleased he enjoys the challenge. For me it's just a case of walking that fine line between offering encouragement without being pushy.

''He needs to develop his own approach. I'm happy to comment if asked but I'll let him work through things for himself. And given his gene pool I suspect he'll have his own opinion anyway."

The NZ secondary schools finals will be held on September 2.

- The Southland Times

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