“I played a lot of cricket, baseball, football, and other sports growing up. And when my dad started playing golf, I decided that I enjoyed the individual side of the sport and relying on myself rather than others”.
Thanks to his father serving in the Airforce, Hend was able to use the base courses as much as he wanted and during the school holidays, he and his friends made full use of this family perk.
“At most of the bases we lived at there were nine hole golf courses, so myself and a couple of other school kids would just go round and round the nine holes all day and play like 54 or 72 holes in a day.”
“There used to be the chook runs on and you pay two bucks to be in the competition. If you put a card in for nine holes with around 38 points, you had a chance of winning a frozen chicken to take home for the family.”
Hend grew up playing on courses that he describes as “not so desirable” but believes playing on the Air Force courses in places like Wagga Wagga, Newcastle, Darwin and across the eastern seaboard of Australia helped develop his game.
“Yea the courses weren’t all that great, but at that age is was about the company and the banter between us all.”
“Now that I look back on it, playing courses that weren’t in the best of condition has helped me a lot. Having to learn how to play off the pretty ordinary lies like the hard pan up in Katherine in 45-degree heat has conditioned me for playing all around the world”.
Since turning professional in 1997, Hend has played on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (Formally the European Tour), and now plays on the Asian Tour. But he highlights his time on the PGA Tour in 2004/05 as some of the best in his career.
“Yeah, it was great. I mean, seeing Tiger Woods and VJ Singh just absolutely dominating at the top of their games, it was a great time to be around professional golf and watch those boys going at it.”
During the 2005 season, Hend was statistically the longest driver on the PGA tour but has always maintained that “I’d happily give Tiger 40 yards on my drive if he can give me five of his wins.”
Hend now plays on the Asian Tour and now sits third on all time winners list credits his golfing upbringing for this achievement.
“Playing in Asia is very much like where I grew up in Australia, it’s a Bermuda grass and the same temperature conditions so I’m very familiar with it”
“It also helps that I love the food and culture of the countries we visit on the Asian Tour. I’m lucky that I don’t get as homesick as some guys do. I’ve got a lot of good friends in Asia, so it’s quite enjoyable.”
Hend has had the honour to represent Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and as part of their team was 1983 New Zealand Open Champion, Ian Baker-Finch, something Hend was unaware of until now.
“Obviously the results in Rio weren’t what we were after but it was an absolute dream to be part of that Olympics team. Having Marcus Fraser on the team who was leading the field after the first two rounds was pretty awesome as well.”
“Ian Baker-Finch was our manager, and it was great learning from him and his considerable experience on the world stage. That’s pretty cool that he won the New Zealand Open, maybe I’ll give him a call and try get some insider knowledge on winning in New Zealand!”
Hend is very much looking forward to returning to New Zealand and he knows a little bit about Millbrook having last played at the New Zealand Open in 2018 when Millbrook and The Hills co-hosted the event.
“I love the Queenstown area, and the hospitality is always fantastic. And Millbrook is such a special place to play.”
“The New Zealand Open is always a great week and I’m always telling the Asian Tour players that they need to come down and play because how great the whole experience is”.
“In my last visit my game wasn’t exactly where I wanted it be. I had just flown in from Saudi Arabia and had a bulging disc in my back and had to withdraw, so I am looking forward to being in amongst the field again.”