There is plenty of youth in the Otago Toro teams named for the tournaments in a few weeks.
The men’s team has three new players while the women’s side has two junior players in top positions.
The men’s interprovincial tournament starts on November 26 at Hastings Golf Club, while the women’s tournament will be a week later at the Maraenui Golf Club, near Napier.
In the men’s team, Jonny Mackay, Ben Patston and Sungwoo Han are the new players and will join Inia Logan and captain Brandon Hodgson. Jack Turner is the reserve.
It is one of the youngest sides to be sent to the tournament – four of the six players are aged under 22.
Although he lives and works in Timaru, Mackay (21) is eligible for Otago through maintaining his handicap at Cromwell, joining clubmate Inia Logan. His roots lie in North Otago where he studied at Waitaki Boys’ High School and played at both the Lower Waitaki and North Otago Golf Clubs.
He has shown enough game to play in the top order by winning the Otago matchplay title, finishing runner-up at North Otago, and finishing third at Chisholm Links and Queenstown.
Patston’s rise through the golfing ranks has been steady. The 34-year-old arrived in New Zealand from England in 2009 after a stint playing professional rugby in the United Kingdom.
He then joined the North Otago Heartland rugby side where he helped lead it to Meads Cup glory over Whanganui in 2010.
Since fully committing to golf, he has won a club title at the Otago Golf Club, a New Zealand left-handers’ title and been an integral part of the club’s senior pennant success.
As his 2019 form has been solid, with an unbeaten pennant record through winter and four wins at the South Island Interprovincial at Waitikiri last month, the selectors had no choice but to promote him into the playing five.
Han (21) is another player who has performed consistently through the year,particularly in New Zealand Order of Merit (OOM) events. He bypassed a number of trials for higher honours with top-10 finishes in the North Island, South Island and Southland strokeplay events and more recently was runner-up in the Wanaka Open.
Hodgson and Logan finished first and second respectively on the Otago OOM, cementing their spots on the side while Jack Turner, who made his debut last year at Clearwater, finished sixth on the OOM and will be better for last year’s experience when or if he is substituted.
The women’s team is a mix of youth and experience. Sumin Kang (14) and Danielle Bailey (18), who both attend Wakatipu High School, show plenty of promise. Kang has enjoyed recent success, winning the Otago championships over Labour weekend.
Bailey, who is in her last year at school, played in a 12 member national age group team which won a match against China in Hangzhou earlier this year.
Kang and Bailey are at the top of the order and will be keen to make an impact.
Backing them up are Tracey Storer, of Belleknowes, Susan Greig, of St Clair and Amy Johns, of Arrowtown. Johns will make her debut for the side at the tournament. The experienced Liz McRae is the reserve and manager.
Players who have not returned to the team from last year are Laura Hoskin, who has turned professional while Abby Crawford is unavailable.
Otago finished eighth last year. Southland women are not fronting a side this year so there are 13 teams competing at the tournament.
Otago Toro teams
Men: Inia Logan (Cromwell), Jonny Mackay (Cromwell), Brandon Hodgson (Otago)
(captain), Ben Patston (Otago), Sungwoo Han (Queenstown), reserve: Jack Turner
Women: Sumin Kang (Wakatipu Junior), Danielle Bailey (Wakatipu Junior), Tracey
Storer (Belleknowes), Susan Greig (St Clair), Amy Johns (Arrowtown), reserve: Liz
Story by Michael Minty – ODT