Retired Central North Island hospitality business owner/builder/green keeper John Solly was among tens of thousands of New Zealand club golfers who entered a competition organised by Golf New Zealand and New Zealand Open sponsor Hyundai New Zealand over the past few months.
Straight-hitting Solly’s name was drawn out to win a prize every part-time Kiwi golfer dreams of – a spot playing in the prestigious Pro-Am event as part of the New Zealand Open taking place at Millbrook Resort near Queenstown in early March. The Hyundai prize pack also includes return
airfares, accommodation, entertainment and a practice round for John and his partner Suzanne Lange in the lead up to the New Zealand Open.
Solly, who plays at Turangi Golf Club off an impressive six handicap, said he never dreamed of taking to the fairways and greens alongside professional golfers as well as some of New Zealand’s top amateurs in the country’s foremost golfing championship.
“I play a lot of veterans tournaments around the country, and since winning the prize with Hyundai a lot of folk I’ve been talking to while we play or while having a beer in the clubhouse afterwards, have all said they’ll be keeping an eye out for my name on the leaderboard,” laughed 63-year-old John.
“I’ve been receiving a lot of good wishes. My golfing friends have said they think it’s great to have someone playing in the New Zealand Open who they actually know. Suzanne offered to be my caddy, but when she realised that might mean carrying the bag for four days if I made the cut, she opted to
be a spectator instead and told me to organise my own caddy.”
John, who has been a golfer since he was nine years old, admits he’s upped his practicing regime over the past few weeks in order to match it with the pro’s around the groomed Millbrook Resort holes.
Hyundai New Zealand chief executive Andy Sinclair congratulated John on his lucky win, and said he was looking forward to welcoming the Turangi swinger on the manicured greens and fairways of Millbrook Resort next month as part of the truly memorable prize.
“There are a lot of Kiwi golfers out there who will be very envious of John, and we know he’ll be making the most of this awesome opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best professional golfers on the Asia/Pacific tour, along with the likes of our own global players Steven Alker and Daniel
Hiller, in addition to celebrity Kiwi sportspeople golfers Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum, Jeff Wilson, Sir Ian Botham and of course our own Hyundai New Zealand ambassador Hayden Paddon,” said Sinclair.
“It’s every Kiwi golfer’s dream to play in an event like the New Zealand Open, of which Hyundai is a major sponsor, and we look forward to sharing in the various activities with John both on and off the course in what will be a celebration of golf.”