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McDonald one of PBEC ‘old heads’

Tessa McDonald has a long way to go before she reaches veteran age-group status.

But when it comes to the Booth Shield junior interprovincial, she is one of the “old heads”.

The 22-year-old will once again spearhead the Poverty Bay-East Coast team in the annual 54-hole teams’ strokeplay net tournament being hosted by Poverty Bay Golf Club tomorrow and Sunday.

Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay national interprovincial representative McDonald will be teeing off in her 12th Booth Shield.

She made her debut in the PBEC B team at Poverty Bay in 2006, when the PBEC A team ended an 18-year drought to win back the shield for the first time since 1988.

She was there again the next year when PBEC successfully defended it in Kaikoura in 2007.

And since then she has competed at every Booth Shield except last year’s edition.

This puts her among an elite group of players to have racked up more than 10 appearances at this historic tournament, which dates back nearly 60 years.

Gisborne couple Nan and the late Jim Booth started the shield competition in 1961 to bring together the best young female and male golfers competitively and socially.

At its height it featured provinces from throughout New Zealand and was regarded as one of the premier junior events.

It was a stepping stone for many of the country’s top amateurs, who went on to successful professional careers.

Those days are gone but it still provides an excellent experience of a competitive team environment, particularly for younger and up-and-coming players.

That’s not to say the higher-end quality is not there.

This weekend’s tournament will feature some impressive young players, including Bay of Plenty 1-handicapper Mitch Kale, the lowest-handicapped player in the field.

McDonald, off a 2-handicap, will have her sights set on the girls’ individual gross and this would be the perfect time for her to achieve her first official sub-70 round at the Bay . . . she shot 70 in April and July.

But she faces some strong competition in BoP pair Caitlin Maurice and Jodae Ngaheu, and Waikato’s Zahraa Bester.

However, the Booth Shield for best team net overall is what all sides are ultimately chasing.

This year’s tournament features only four provinces — PBEC, BoP, Waikato and Wellington.

Reigning champions Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki are not competing because of a supposed lack of junior girls — a sad indictment on their junior situation.

Teams of 10 — five girls and five boys — will play three strokeplay rounds, two tomorrow and one on Sunday.

As well as their A team, PBEC also have a B team of six boys who are ineligible for the team honours.

PBEC A: David Situ, Zach Rolls, Reef Pohatu, Jacob Colbert, Clay Wesche, Tessa McDonald, Anahera Stills-Hindmarsh, Jett Pohatu, Ellen Ball, Jess Hayward.

PBEC B: Andy Brott, Wade Wesche, Wade Williams, Xavier Tohiariki-Williams, Christopher Taurima, Labor Taurima.

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