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Aroha’s ace another step on fairway to success

Some golfers battle all their lives to nail a hole-in-one – and many never succeed in reaching that elusive milestone.

However, in Rarangi golfer Aroha Minhinnick’s case it has taken her just 11 years to register her first ace, no surprise given the youngster’s impressive rate of progress since picking up a club aged just seven.

Aroha, a year-seven student at Bohally Intermediate, produced her first perfect shot during a recent championship match at her home club.

The nine-handicapper was playing a singles knockout match against fellow Rarangi Golf Club member Annie Hubert when they came to the par three 12th hole, known as Pukaka, on the seaside course. Aroha explains what happened.

“Annie had her shot and she went a bit left. Then I had my shot … it bounced once, then we heard it hit the pin.

“We weren’t sure if it was in or not … we went up there and couldn’t see it, so we looked in the hole and there it was, just sitting there. I was really shocked and excited.

“Annie was really proud of me … she was really happy.”

Aroha’s mother, Amanda, was waiting at the final hole for her daughter to finish, but heard from a player on another fairway that a youngster had landed an ace so tracked her daughter down on the course to celebrate.

Aroha typically shoots scores in the low to mid-80s around the Rarangi lay-out, with her best score so far, a 78, being registered at the Nelson Golf Club. She is keen to finally break 80 on her home course and reckons she is on track to do so.

When asked what she needs to improve if she is to lower her scores, she is forthright. “Probably my attitude, I get quite frustrated with myself … and some of the physical parts – but my swing has been pretty good lately.”

Golf is a family affair for Aroha, who lives just a short iron shot from the No 2 green at Rarangi, with Dad Jason, also a nine-handicapper, Amanda and sister Pippa.

Their close proximity to the course is an added bonus for Aroha who trains almost every day for an hour, honing different aspects of her game.

A highlight of the early stages of 2019 has been a first-up win over her father, who suggests with a wry smile that it is getting harder and harder to keep up with the young prodigy in the family.

Aroha, whose favourite player is Thai star Ariya Jutanugarn, has her eye on a place in the Tasman senior women’s team this season, hoping to earn a spot among the top of the south elite.

Her long-term goals are also firmly fixed.

“I want to play on the LPGA Tour and be like Ariya Jutanugarn. It would be great to make a living out of playing golf,” she added.

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