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They’ll be back: Visiting vets give Open thumbs up


“A love-in masquerading as a golf tournament.”

That was how Gisborne East Coast Veteran Golfers’ Society chairman and chief organiser John Fricker described a highly successful 63rd GEC Vets’ Open tournament.

More than 100 male and female golfers enjoyed the Poverty Bay course and company of fellow dimpled-ball enthusiasts over four days this week.

They came from near and far — the latter evidenced by a buzzing camper van “village” in the club carpark area over the week.

Of the 100 registered competitors, 37 were from out of town . . . “something to be proud of when considering the remoteness of our region”, said Fricker.

And it appears most will be back.

“The overriding theme expressed by our visitors was one of feeling welcome. They were, to a person, highly complimentary of Gisborne vets’ friendliness, the organisation of the event and the lengths Poverty Bay Golf Club staff went to in pursuit of their guests’ personal comfort.”

Competitive-wise, players were “up for the fight”, Fricker said, but this was overridden by courtesy and camaraderie.

“Vets don’t do ‘win at all costs’. This was a love-in masquerading as a golf tournament.”

But it was still a competition. Players locked swords. There were winners . . . and losers.

The men contested matchplay in eight groups of eight from Monday to Wednesday.

It followed an 18-hole strokeplay Sunday round involving 37 players who contested two long-standing trophies.

Home-course player Syd Liley was on fire, carding 82-18-64 to win the Endeavour Cup for the best net by a player aged 50 to 69.

Alan Allsworth, of Masterton’s Mahunga club, carded 88-21-67 to win the Discovery Salver for the best net by a player aged 70 and over.

Liley carried his Sunday form into the matchplay. He beat clubmate Richard Foon in the Captain Cook Cup Group 2 final.

The Challenge Cup Group 1 produced a thrilling final. Cambridge vet Bruce Ridden, playing in the tournament for the first time, beat Poverty Bay’s Brian Morrissey in a sudden-death playoff.

Other group winners were John Han (Paraparaumu Beach) — McMillan Cup Group 3; Kim Travers (Poverty Bay) — Waikanae Plate Group 4; Ray Farmer (Poverty Bay) — Musgrave Cup Group 6; Peter Harrison (Te Puia Springs) — Nicks Head Cup Group 7; and Keith Hickman (Castlecliff, Whanganui) — Banks Tankard Group 8.

Gisborne Park member Fricker had extra reason to be chuffed with the tournament. He won the McMurray Plate Group 5 final.

Fricker was grateful to all those who contributed.

“We were fortunate to have an abundance of volunteers to call on for help and everyone stepped up to the plate. “We are firmly on the NZVGA (New Zealand Veteran Golfers Association) circuit and everyone I spoke to intends returning next year.”

The women played three rounds of strokeplay.

Ann Braithwaite, from Taranaki club Te Ngutu, bounced back from a poor start to win the Marg Colebourne Jug aggregate gross with 247 (90, 78, 79).

Te Puke’s Jan Strang won the Brigit McIldowie Salver aggregate net with 210, two shots ahead of Poverty Bay’s Vonnie Fletcher.

Mahia’s Lee Steel’s 120 points won the Bunty Trafford Memorial Jug aggregate stableford.

VET OPEN WINNERS: Overall winners from the Gisborne East Coast Vets’ Open are, standing (from left): Peter Harrison, Bruce Ridden, John Fricker, Syd Liley, Ray Farmer, Keith Hickman, Alan Allsworth, John Han and Kim Travers. Front: Ann Braithwaite, Lee Steele and Jan Strang. Picture supplied