MICHAEL GLADING HAS DONE IT ALL

With the 100th NZ Open ap­proach­ing we talk to the man who has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with the event.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS PETER THORN­TON

The Tour­na­ment Di­rec­tor of the cham­pi­onship that dates back to 1907 is flat out as his team looks to de­liver a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence at the 100th NZ Open at The Hills and Mill­brook from 28 Fe­bru­ary - 3 March 2019. We took some time out with Glading to rem­i­nisce about his mem­o­ries from over the years of New Zealand Golf’s pin­na­cle event and look at the plans go­ing for­ward.

What are your ear­li­est mem­o­ries of the New Zealand Open?

Prob­a­bly re­late more to the fact that dur­ing my Univer­sity days I was also a caddy and the New Zealand Open was al­ways the No 1 event ‘on tour’. I started cad­dy­ing for Sir Bob Charles in 1972 where the NZ Open was held at one of my all-time favourite cour­ses Para­pa­raumu Beach; af­ter that I hardly missed a year, through un­til my “re­tire­ment” as a caddy in 2009 – I cad­died in nearly 30 Na­tional Opens!

Your old man won the ti­tle back to back as an am­a­teur in 1946 and 1947, what was it like grow­ing up with the legacy in your fam­ily? Did your Dad tell you many sto­ries from his NZ Open suc­cess or ex­pe­ri­ences?

My Dad was al­ways one for “liv­ing in the present and the fu­ture”, and sel­dom looked back at any­thing in life; sadly this in­cluded his golf­ing ex­ploits, so he never re­ally talked about his two NZ Open wins. I do know of course that he first won as an am­a­teur straight af­ter the war – to fol­low from five years of fly­ing planes off air­craft car­ri­ers, and re­turn to the game by win­ning his Na­tional Open, he must have had enor­mous ta­lent. His sec­ond win was as a pro­fes­sional, as he turned pro af­ter win­ning his first NZ Open. Above all, I know how proud he was to have won this event - for him, it was the pin­na­cle of his golf ca­reer. I do wish I’d asked him more!

Many great Kiwi golfers have won the ti­tle over the years, do you have any stand­out wins that you wit­nessed and why?

Two spring to mind - firstly, for self­ish rea­sons, the num­ber one stand­out was when I cad­died for Bob Charles when he won at Manawatu in 1973, and se­condly, Mike Hendry’s win at Mill­brook in 2017. It had been such a long drought since a Kiwi had won, and I was thrilled for Mike, and for the game in New Zealand, to have a Kiwi back in the win­ning cir­cle.

You cad­died for Sir Bob Charles for how many years? I am told this in­cluded 26 New Zealand Opens, what was that ex­pe­ri­ence like? What are your stand­out mem­o­ries look­ing back?

Yes, I cad­died for Bob in so many Opens I’ve just about lost count. Even though I had a “real job” dur­ing most of that time, I al­ways took an­nual leave so I could get back on the bag! Bob only won the New Zealand Open once when I cad­died for him, with a few near misses. The worst is one that ac­tu­ally stands out in my mem­ory - funny how cer­tain things re­main etched af­ter so many years - but Bob was lead­ing the NZ Open by one stroke at Shirley (Christchurch) play­ing the last hole; a per­fect drive was fol­lowed by an ag­gres­sive iron to a back pin. It looked like it would fin­ish close, but the very last roll of the ball saw it drop into the back bunker. He failed to get up and down, and lost to Amer­i­can Bob Gilder in a play-off. Prob­a­bly the worst I’ve ever felt on the golf course - I still feel sick think­ing about that!!

My best mem­ory how­ever is at Manawatu the year be­fore – I can’t re­mem­ber the hole, but it was par 3 on the back nine, with Bob tied for the lead again; he mishit his tee shot and was on the front edge of a two-tiered green; The putt must have been at least 20m - can still re­mem­ber hold­ing the flag and hop­ing he could get it some­where close - but as soon as the putt left his club I knew it was bril­liant - sure enough, he holed it, and went on to win! A piv­otal mo­ment in a great week that I will never for­get.

What was it like to caddy for Sir Bob when The Hills first hosted the NZPGA in 2007? Were you cad­dy­ing for him when he was the old­est player to make a cut at a Euro­pean Tour event?

Yes I cad­died for him then. An­other week that will live with me for­ever - he was play­ing so well, but not putting great; in his inim­itable style he spent most evenings prac­tis­ing his putting; at nearly 72 years old, he still had the hunger! An in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing week, and un­like Bob’s nor­mal style, we ac­tu­ally had a huge cel­e­bra­tion at his house af­ter that event. What a player he is!

With your his­tory with the event, how spe­cial was it to be­come the NZ Open Tour­na­ment Di­rec­tor?

To be hon­est it was never in my sights! Af­ter I left NZ Foot­ball [as the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive] I had no idea what I would do next - this fell into my lap with a nudge from Sir Michael Hill and John Hart, and it has been a blast ever since. Ironic that I had such a his­tory with the event and end up run­ning it! Fate maybe??!!! Who knows!

What do you and your team try to achieve with the event, with the Pro-Am for­mat and all the colour with it these days?

We all work very hard to firstly, make sure that what we build is sus­tain­able, and se­condly, to make sure that ev­ery­one as­so­ci­ated with the event en­joys it - pro­fes­sion­als, am­a­teur play­ers, spon­sors, spec­ta­tors and the TV au­di­ence - they are all highly im­por­tant for us.

What plans do you have for the 100th NZ Open?

We re­ally want to con­tinue to build this event; be­ing #100 will mean we have a few more bells and whis­tles, and of course, it’s a time to cel­e­brate the his­tory of what we have been given cus­tody of. New Zealand Golf de­serve enor­mous credit for hand­ing us the keys to this car, and we will drive it very care­fully and re­spect­fully!

What does it mean to you to be the man in charge of the 100th NZ Open with the amaz­ing legacy and his­tory this tour­na­ment has?

I know this may sound con­de­scend­ing, but to be hon­est it’s not about me - ev­ery­one in­volved has the same feel­ing of pride, and we work as a team. My pride comes out of the great work that oth­ers I’m sur­rounded with do. I do not per­son­alise it!

When you ar­rive at the course first thing in the morn­ing and it is quiet and you and your team are get­ting ready for the day, it must give you a lot of pride to de­liver a tour­na­ment like this?

Yes, it’s al­ways a lovely feel­ing when I do that very early walk to HQ, and know that we are to­tally ready for the day or week ahead of us. We work hard at prepa­ra­tion, and that al­lows me to take a deep breath and ab­sorb the ex­cite­ment of what lies ahead, and feel pretty good about it. A quiet sense of pride for sure. But then it all goes away when the first mini-crises hits!! And then it's head down from then on till the Mon­day af­ter!

Bob Glading, Michael's fa­ther.

Sir Bob Charles and cad­die Michael Glading.

John Hart and Michael Glading.

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