The bright lights of Istanbul are a long way from the quiet streets of Gore but Vaughan McCall is the sort of down-to-earth southern bloke who takes every new experience in his stride.
The 21-year-old from the Gore Golf Club is playing in his first Eisenhower World Amateur Team Championship, which started overnight (NZ time) in Turkey.
The Southland No 1 has conquered new territory this year.
He was the first golfer in 24 years to win both the NZ Stroke Play and NZ Amateur titles in the same year after beating Rotorua teenager Peter Lee 6 and 5 in the latter event at the Mt Maunganui Golf Club in April.
McCall was also the first golfer from Southland to win the New Zealand Amateur, the first from the deep south to have won the NZ Stroke Play and last year he led Southland to their first win in the Toro Interprovincial.
He teams up with Mathew Perry (Hamilton) and Ben Campbell (Masterton) as the trio look to follow in the footsteps of the New Zealand team which won the event in 1992.
The No 1 on the New Zealand order of merit was an automatic choice for the Eisenhower team.
"Playing in the Eisenhower means a hell of a lot to me," McCall said. "It's one of the few chances you get to represent your country in team golf.
‘"To do it at the highest amateur level is awesome as it has been something I have targeted for the past 12 months.
"I just can't wait to put on the New Zealand Golf shirt and do my country proud."
It has been a whirlwind 18 months for the likeable lad who takes nothing for granted.
In his first tournament in Britain, he finished second at the Wales Stroke Play Championship.
At any of the golfing camps the Srixon Academy player attends he asks questions as if he is a journalist and soaks up any information like a sponge. "I have learned a lot in the past couple of years that is for sure - probably way too much for you to put on paper," he said.
"I have learnt that golf is definitely for me. I feel I belong in the tour world now.
"I want to take any opportunities I have in front of me and anything that comes my way.
"I want to soak it all up."
McCall hopes to put those lessons into practice when he makes his debut at the Eisenhower.
"There is big excitement there but I am also pretty nervous as well. It is all of the best amateurs in the world coming together, so it is going to be a good challenge to play alongside them."
It is 20 years since New Zealand famously won the Eisenhower World Amateur Team Championship and this year's team believe it is time history repeated.
The victory in Canada in 1992 by Phil Tataurangi, Michael Campbell, Stephen Scahill and Grant Moorhead has gone down in Kiwi sporting folklore.
After the season he's had, McCall is confident he can help upset the odds.
"My preparation before I came over for this event went great.
"I posted some really good numbers and I was very happy with how my game is progressing," he said.
"The biggest difference for me in the last 12 months has been time practising. I have worked more specifically on areas of my game that aren't up to scratch.
"Putting in the time in these areas has paid off untold.
"It has been great sitting down with the team and sorting out our goals for this event.
"If we combine well as a team, and the team spirit and bondage is there, then I think we have a real shot at bringing home some silverware."
More than 70 countries are in Turkey to contest the Eisenhower.
France won the 2010 event at the Buenos Aires and Olivos Golf Clubs in Argentina ahead of Denmark, and Dane Joachim Hansen was the individual winner. New Zealand's Ben Campbell finished fourth in the individual standings.
The Eisenhower Trophy has been won by 10 different teams since the event began in 1958 at the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland.
The United States is the most successful country in the Eisenhower history with 13 wins.
Great Britain and Ireland, who last combined as a team in 2000, have four wins and Australia have three titles.
New Zealand is one of seven countries, including Japan, Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Scotland and France, who have won the trophy once.
- The Southland Times
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