Volunteering at the New Zealand Open is not just about the Golf

We caught up with Ed and Christine who, since 1996, have from their base in Monterey, California not only fell in love with the Queenstown and Arrowtown regions, but also the New Zealand Open.

Having first ventured to New Zealand in the mid 90’s in search of a place where they could play top-notch courses at a reasonable price Ed and Christine travelled throughout both the North and South Islands but always seemed to return to Central Otago. “There is just something magical about this part of the country,” said Ed.

Along the way, Ed and Christine met a lot of Kiwi’s and soon settled down in Queenstown and then started to look for a way to become part of the community.

“We met a number of people who were members of Arrowtown Golf Club and two of them, Pam and Bill sponsored our membership into Arrowtown in the late 90’s. Then when the New Zealand Open came to The Hills we thought that volunteering would be a great way to meet more people who shared our interests, contribute to the local community and be part of something quite special”.

“In our first year volunteering, Chris and I were assigned to manage a scoreboard. It was a great introduction to pro-am golf and one of my favourite memories of that week was fishing out the then Prime Minister, John Key’s ball from the water hazard and returning it to him. Getting this close to the leader of the nation’s government would never happen back home in the US.”

For Ed and Christine, this brought home the notion that although the New Zealand Open was an important tournament for the professionals, it was also an event where people from all walks of life could come together, and enjoy great golf and the company of one another.

“After Christine and I volunteered a couple of times, we reached out to a couple of friends (Dave and Leslie) from Auckland and shared our experiences which encouraged them to volunteer with us.  As it turned out, Dave was already a caddy for professional Michael Wright, so that year he did double duty, he first worked as a caddy and once that was done, he would join us wherever we were.

“The four of us were assigned to the 17th green at The Hills where we met up with Howard, who worked the shuttle to the 18th hole.  He introduced us to other volunteers and we all became and have stayed good friends over the years. In fact, Dave and Leslie have come to the US twice on holiday and stayed with us. 

“We have since grown our group to 12 and have officially become an “adopt a hole” group with an international membership including Myself and Christine from the USA, Dave, Leslie and Mark from Auckland,  Fran, Jim, Ian, and Jackie from Jack’s Point via Sydney plus 3 of their Aussie friends also from Sydney. This gave us the opportunity to shift to a hole that offered different roles for everyone from tee box management, to ball spotting, to scoreboard, to greens marshals. 

“It has been so rewarding meeting and working with all these incredible people. We have been to one another’s homes (here and abroad) for lunches and dinners and have enjoyed many social activities throughout the area and our “traditional” end-of-day get-togethers have created lifelong friendships that we hope will continue to grow. “

“And it’s not just the team behind the New Zealand Open that have been amazing supporters of the volunteers, we have developed a great relationship with some of the homeowners who have treated us with extreme kindness. Opening their homes to us for toilet breaks, providing us with lunch and snacks and even hosting all 12 of us for a get-together at the end of the final round.”

Having volunteered at the New Zealand Open for a few years now, Ed has so many fond memories it’s difficult to narrow it down to one or even two. 

“One that sticks out was on the 17th at The Hills, when a player hit his ball into the left side of the green into the tussocks. I was working as a ball spotter and found the ball, and he went on to win the tournament. I was honoured when during his victory speech, he acknowledged “the volunteer who found his ball because otherwise he would have had to take a penalty stroke and possibly would not have won.”

Ed encourages anyone thinking about putting their hand up to get involved and give it a go, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a golfer, everyone has an opportunity to be part of the New Zealand Open.

“The great thing about the New Zealand Open is it’s a great event for golfers and non-golfers alike and the whole experience is just about helping the community and the event participants.

“And what’s more, it’s a great way to meet people, make some lifelong friends and watch some very talented people play a game that is both enjoyable and frustrating at every level.”

Sign up for News & Updates


sky white
cip website white
hyundai white
Rebel Sport Logo WHT website
the hills
Send an enquiry

  • Hidden
  • Personal Details

  • Volunteer Role

  • Clothing

  • For general information please contact Benn Ashford at [email protected] and we'll come straight back to you!
Contact Us
[email protected]