Jonathon Coleman, Minister for Sport and Recreation, gives us his take on an aspect of golf.
here have been many
Tdifferent facets to my life, but a consistent strand that has run throughout it has been a deep passion for sport. To paraphrase ex British Prime Minister John Major, I had to accept that I was one of those people who played sport for the sheer love of it rather than because of any sort of real ability!
From a very early age, I held a deep interest in the history of New Zealand sport. Some of my earliest memories are of trips to Eden Park to watch Saturday afternoon club rugby. I've been fortunate to watch some of New Zealand's greatest sporting accomplishments both here at home and in more recent years around the world.
As a kid, I was a voracious collector of autographs and made many visits to the dressing rooms under the stands at Eden Park in search of signatures. I also built up an impressive scrapbook collection as I followed the fortunes of New Zealand sports men and women and dutifully clipped the reports of their exploits from the New Zealand Herald and Auckland Star.
From my early teenage years, golf was very much part of my life, with regular sojourns to Remuera Golf Club, where I was a junior member, as well as Chamberlain Park. In later years Peninsula and Muriwai were both clubs I enjoyed playing at.
I well remember attending the New Zealand Golf Open at Titirangi in 1982 and being deeply embarrassed as I threw a drink can into a metal rubbish bin just beside the tee, unfortunately, it was at the exact same moment as Australian Golf Professional Geoff Marsh was about to begin his backswing, needless to say, I never made that mistake again!
With the birth of our first child and in the midst of a busy political career, something had to give if I was to balance work, family and sporting life. Ever the optimist I went and purchased a brand new Callaway driver the week before the baby arrived. Soon after the delivery of my daughter, I realised the driver was probably unlikely to ever have the head cover pulled off again, and that pretty much remains the case!
Golf is a great game, and this is the best country in the world to play it for a whole range of reasons that I don't need to list because readers will know this for themselves. However like other sports, if golf is to appeal to young players, it's important that it thinks seriously about how to attract people to the game. For many young adult New Zealander's club fees are too high, and the time commitments too great to make the sport a viable option. While there are no easy answers for golf clubs, I believe it is important that their approach to attracting and retaining participants in the sport is innovative and flexible.
Sport is so important to New Zealand on so many levels; participation and competition teach young people many of the skills and lessons they need to succeed in the wider world. Perseverance, ethics, team work and dealing with setbacks are aspects of sport that help make young New Zealanders, better New Zealanders. It is a big reason why I'm so passionate about my job.
Dr Jonathan Coleman is the Minister of Health and Minister for Sport and Recreation