MACLEANS COL­LEGE DE­VEL­OP­ING GOLF­ING STARS

Macleans Col­lege in Auck­land is do­ing some­thing spe­cial with the golfers they are nour­ish­ing.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS LAURA HOSKIN

With the en­roll­ment at 2,500 stu­dents, among them are four up-com­ing top NZ am­a­teurs, who com­peted and won the New Zealand Sec­ondary School fi­nals ear­lier this year. The six-shot vic­tory was strung to­gether by a re­mark­able team per­for­mance over a 36-hole event. How-ever it was stand-out team mem­ber, Jimmy Zheng who turned heads in the fi­nal round shoot­ing a course record of 60 to win the in­di­vid­ual ti­tle. His back nine was sim­ply flaw­less, con­sist­ing of seven birdies and an ea­gle for a score of 27. The low round in­creased Zheng’s in­di­vid­ual win­ning mar­gin by 12 shots from Fo­cus Jong­likit of River­side.

With help of his four team mates and their quick adap­tion to the course, ev­ery­one im­proved from the pre­vi­ous 18 holes. Wang and Barker both birded hole 18 for a scores of 76 and 74 while Lu kept a con­sis­tent round to­gether to shoot, 76.

It would not be pos­si­ble for the young golfers of Macleans Col­lege to de­velop and har­vest their tal­ents with­out the con­sis­tent sup­port and men­tor­ship of Anand Rao. For the last two years Rao has taken the team un­der his wing as the school’s golf man­ager. Part of his du­ties is to or­ga­nize their school play­ing sched­ule and travel with the team to events. Part of be­ing a Macleans Col­lege ath­lete in­cludes keep­ing up with daily school work and class as­sign­ments while com­pet­ing in school events. Rao, the team man­ager en­sures the play­ers are dili­gent with their stud­ies and en­forces com­ple­tion of work while rep­re­sent­ing the school.

“We give stu­dents time off to par­tic­i­pate in dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions or­ga­nized by na­tional golf.” Said Rao. “Also en­sur­ing that stu­dents catch up with missed school work.”

Hav­ing dreams of play­ing golf at the high­est level comes with sac­ri­fice and ded­i­ca­tion and mak­ing the most of free time out­side of a busy high school sched­ule. How­ever, four-time Macleans Col­lege rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Zhang is no stranger to hard work, prac­tic­ing mul­ti­ple times a day.

“My goal is to play on the PGA Tour and I train be­fore and af­ter school, oc­ca­sion­ally with Henry and Vi­vian.” Said Zhang.

Un­like tra­di­tional high school sport teams where coach­ing is of­fered to a large group of play­ers at one time, golfers are more likely to prac­tice in­di­vid­u­ally on their own, with a coach or amongst a small group of friends. The Macleans Col­lege team all have their own in­di­vid­ual coaches who they see out­side of school. This al­lows prac­tice and coach­ing to be spe­cific to the in­di­vid­ual golfer and their skill level,

“Since golf is an in­di­vid­ual sport – our top play­ers have per­sonal coaches. In some cases, the play­ers will have two – one for long game and one for short game.” Said Rao.

“I don't usu­ally prac­tice with my team mates from school but now and again we will see each other and prac­tice to­gether.” Said Henry Wang.

Nour­ish­ing dreams and aspi­ra­tions is what Macleans Col­lege is do­ing for their young golf­ing com­mu­nity. To build and de­velop a suc­cess­ful team who all put com­pet­i­tive scores to­gether to win a na­tional ti­tle hap­pens by no ac­ci­dent. Rao and his ef­forts to help en­cour­age and sup­port Macleans young ath­letes is not only pay­ing off with cur­rent na­tional ti­tles but giv­ing them the free­dom and chance to dream big.

“My aspi­ra­tions in golf are to be­come a pro­fes­sional golfer and to be­come the World's best player.” Said Wang.

There is noth­ing more ex­cit­ing than to hear a kid say he wants to be the best and see­ing them put in the hard work and reap­ing the re­wards, that is ex­actly what Macleans Col­lege is do­ing.

Jimmy Zheng dur­ing the New Zealand Stroke Play Cham­pi­onship Golf Tour­na­ment at Hast­ings Golf Club, March 2017. Photo, Kerry Mar­shall/ www.bw­me­dia.co.nz

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