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Former Volt Scores a Perfect Ace

Josh Tasman-Jones

Republished from Outright #52 (Summer 2023)

Ask anyone at your local golf club about cricketers playing golf and they will likely respond in the same way – they can hit it a long way but often all over the place (there is even a online video entitled “3 Simple Ways to Fix Your Cricket Slice”). But for many, if not most cricketers, the fairways provide a great outlet and place to channel their competitive instincts.

Josh Tasman-Jones stole the golfing headlines during the NZ Men’s Amateur Championship at Otago Golf Club in November 2022 when he nailed his first ever hole-in-one on the 12th hole in his opening round of this premier NZ Golf event. Tasman-Jones knew the hole well as Otago is his home course and in the lead up to the tournament had planned this very shot. But even with best laid plans he could not have imagined what ultimately played out in front of playing partners Tyler Wood and Ben Patston.

“I committed to hitting the shot I practised and straight away thought it was heading for the flag and I might be able to get a birdie. Then I heard it hit the pin and we all lost sight of it. The scorer standing up at the green let out a scream which sparked an amazing moment of celebration.” “This was the first time Mum had ever seen me play golf and she managed to get a video me hitting the shot and the celebration afterwards, which was pretty cool.”

Playing in the NZ Amateur was more a collision of opportunity rather than anything planned out for Tasman-Jones, who until last summer was still playing cricket with the Otago Volts in the Super Smash. Having stopped playing for Otago and becoming an Otago team selector this year, Tasman-Jones now has more time to put into his golf game and with added flexibility from employer Dynasty sports and proximity to the golf course, has been able to lower his handicap pretty quickly over the past year.

Tasman-Jones remains realistic about his golf abilities acknowledging “the NZ Open was being played at my home course and my handicap was low enough to sneak just inside the qualification level, so I thought why not. I have a long way to go and am realistic, but I am keen to get stuck into golf and see where it takes me.”

Tasman-Jones may take inspiration from another successful cricket-golf convert in former Central Stags player Stuart Duff. The Napier local has been involved with golf virtually his whole life and as any of his teammates would recall, ‘Duffy’ often had golf clubs alongside cricket kit through the summer schedule. Like cricket contemporary Mitchell Santner (who currently boasts a handicap of +2.7) Duff possess a rare natural talent that makes golf look easier than it actually is.

The reality is that golf at this level requires time, energy and skill, which is something that seems to resonate with both Tasman-Jones and Duff. Each seeing their cricketing background as an advantage to the commitment required to practice often and well, just as they used to toil away in the nets.

The similarity of preparation between both cricket and golf may be part of the reason why it has such strong appeal for cricketers. The competitive side of golf ensures the body receives the hit of endorphins and adrenalin that it craves, but it is also the ability to deal with adversity and resilience that surely helps cricketers through the trials and tribulations of golf – and that infamous slice!

Stu Duff hits more good shots than that bad which has seen him selected to the NZ Senior representative team since 2018 and is a regular pick in the Hawkes Bay representative team dating back to 1997 (soon after his retirement from cricket).

Duff won the NZ Senior Championship in 2018 for the first time which was the catalyst to his selection to the NZ Seniors team that competes with Australia on a biennial basis. That NZ Senior championship victory was repeated in 2019 at home course Hastings, before taking that form onto the international stage and winning the individual and team divisions at the Asia Pacific Senior tournament at Sungai Long Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.

“That was pretty cool fun,” reflected Duff, who plays as much for the competition as the connection it gives with other people. “While I really enjoy competing and there is always something to improve upon, I do love the connection with different people within clubs and the various teams I have been part of. I just love playing the game.”

“I once played alongside Sir Bob Charles and it was amazing to see someone who was 85 years shoot a score of 75,” said Duff.

The NZ Senior Championship which was hosted at Christchurch Golf Club from 9th to 11th February saw Duff feature again, but ultimately pipped for the title as he finished 2nd behind Brent Paterson (claiming his fourth title in a row).

Through the weekend Duff was able to have some cricket chat as former first-class players Paul McEwan, Warren Wisneski, Rod Latham, Stu Gillespie, Bryan Andrews and David Stead were also on the start sheet.

Fellow Central Stags alumni David Leonard has also found the golfing bug and this year has represented Nelson Senior’s at the national tournament. He may find a sympathetic ear when Central Stags are in Nelson with CD High Performance manager and former Stag David Meiring himself a more thanhandy golfer, having been part of the NZ Golf Academy as a youngster before cricket took priority.

Current White Ferns representative Bernadine Bezuidenhout was another with a strong connection to golf in South Africa, where in her youth she played extensively and could have been her professional sporting path had a move to New Zealand and cricket not eventuated. There are too many women and men cricketers with a golfing story to name in this article, but one thing is sure that there is something about golf that connects with cricketers. Just look at the list of cricketers competing at the NZ Golf Open in Queenstown this year!

That mystery of why is for another day, but one thing is for sure, whether its Duff, Tasman-Jones or Leonard in the competitive mire of golf, or just a weekend hit at the local trying to win a beverage and bragging rights from your mates, you can probably find a cricketer on the green somewhere nearby.



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