The Jennian Homes Charles Tour returns to Mt Maunganui Golf Club after a year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and this year, the event is back and bigger than ever. Not only is DP World Tour player Josh Geary headlining a stellar championship field, but the host club is also running an All Abilities Open, a Futures Pro-Am, and a Futures Festival to showcase more than just elite golf and that there is something for everyone at Mt Maunganui Golf Club.

Yesterday, over 30 kids got to rub shoulders with some of their favourite Kiwi professionals at the Futures Pro-Am, which aims to raise money for the club’s junior programme. On Sunday, young people with little to no golf experience have the opportunity to give golf a go with a variety of games that will be set up across the club’s practice facilities after the professionals have teed off their final round. Juniors are then encouraged to watch the finish of the tournament.

Further to all the junior activities happening at the club, for the first time, they’re also running an All Abilities Open alongside the tournament over the weekend.

Mt Maunganui Golf Club General Manager Michael Williams says it’s a great opportunity to showcase golf and the club as a community asset.

“We want to be an inclusive golf club and have our facilities available to a wide range of the community. Whether that’s having a coffee in our café or taking a yoga class at Studio 18 downstairs, or learning the game of golf, we want to have the facilities to cater for everyone, so it’s definitely part of our strategy.”

The big attraction is still the Christies Floorings Mount Open, headlined by one of New Zealand’s most popular professionals, Josh Geary.

He returned from Europe just over five weeks ago and is itching to get back into competitive golf, especially in his own backyard.

Geary says he’s looking forward to the next couple of weeks in his home region.

“Life is good. I’ve been busy of late and haven’t played a lot in the past five or so weeks since I’ve been home. It’ll be nice to sleep in my own bed for these two events and great to be back home playing in my own backyard. We’ll see how the form is, I’ve had a bit of time away from the clubs, so I’m not expecting huge things, but it will be a good little build-up to the bigger stuff later on in the year.

“It is special [to be back]. We don’t get that many opportunities to play events like this in your own backyard over back-to-back weeks, so I’m looking forward to that. It should be a great couple of weeks.”

Consistency is what Geary is looking for over the next two Jennian Homes Charles Tour events in the Bay of Plenty. He admits that he was close in Europe but couldn’t quite put it together over the weekends, which is something he’s looking to do this week.

“I had two good stints over there. The form has been all right; it’s a bit frustrating as I made a lot of cuts but didn’t do too much over the weekends. It’s such a fine line out there, and it doesn’t take much to turn a one or two-over-par round into a good one.

“Looking back, I played really consistently, so it was satisfying in that regard, but it would have been nice to have a couple of better finishes, but no complaints from me.”

He’s got several in-form players he’ll need to beat if he’s to lift his seventh Jennian Homes Charles Tour title, including the likes of the Keh sisters, local favourites Luke Toomey and Mark Brown, as well as returning Eisenhower players Sam Jones and Kazuma Kobori. James Hydes returns for the Carrus Open next week.

A handful of Australians have also made the trip across the ditch and are expected to be there or thereabouts come Sunday afternoon.

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