Otago has a dream draw in the national interprovincial team tournament on the Clearwater course in Christchurch next week.
Otago avoids last year’s winner North Harbour, 2016 winner Wellington, 2014-15 winner Waikato and a strong Canterbury quintet.
Otago’s toughest match will be against last year’s runner-up, Auckland, on Tuesday morning.
With only five matches at stake each round, the team will have to be wary of all-comers as upsets have been more prevalent in recent years.
Otago plays Taranaki and Northland on Monday and has a bye on Tuesday afternoon after the clash against Auckland in the morning.
There is only a morning round on Wednesday when Otago comes up against Hawkes Bay while in final section rounds on Thursday Otago takes on Southland in the morning and Tasman in the afternoon.
The semifinals will be played on Friday morning with the winners meeting in the final in the afternoon.
The tournament used to start on Tuesday but has moved back to a Monday start.Otago team coach Ben Gallie said his young and new-look team was excited about playing in the event.
Gallie has coached the team to make the playoffs in four of the past five years, including three finals.
Gallie believes the team is well balanced with two experienced campaigners and an introduction of new blood.
No1 Inia Logan at No1 is “a full-time amateur” at present and has played in Australia during the past two winters, finishing second in the Queensland Amateur last year.
Gallie believes that anything over a 50% record against the best players from each team will be a successful debut at No1 for Logan.
He has been impressed with Brandon Hodgson in recent national interprovincial events and said he would be the glue which holds the team together at No3.
Former Southland No1 Scott Hellier will play at No5 and Gallie is confident he will be a good lead-out player.
“He will be one of the toughest No5 players in the tournament and should give the team a good start each round,” Gallie said.
Hellier has joined the Clinton Club and will be an asset to the team. His career highlight has been scoring a 60 at Russley in the New Zealand Amateur.
Youngsters Callum Judkins at No2 and Jack Turner at No4, both aged 18, have made their mark in the trial series this year and have shown good form.
They will be making their debuts at this level but both have shown they are good at handling pressure situations.
Judkins came back from 4-down after five holes to will the North Otago matchplay while Turner went 5-under in the final to win the coveted Otago title.
Southland has lost some experience but will still field a competitive team at Clearwater next week. Matt Tautari is at No1 and will be backed up by Tyler McLean, Jeremy Hall, Liam Hewitt and Liam Balneaves. Brad Harper will be the reserve.
Otago team ,,, For national interprovincial
Inia Logan 1, Callum Judkins 2, Brandon Hodgson 3, Jack Turner 4, Scott Hellier 5.
Reserve: Duncan Croudis.