Southland golf stalwart Matt Tautari joins special club

 

Matt Tautari has played 100 games for Southland’s representative men’s golf team.

Matt Tautari’s love of golf and representing his province is unquestionable.

For over half of Tautari’s life he has been striding New Zealand golf course fairways trying to win matches for Southland.

It all started in 2002 as a 15-year-old when he became one of the youngest players ever to line up in New Zealand interprovincial amateur teams tournament.

He was named as Southland’s No 1 for the tournament and made an immediate impression winning six of his eight matches.

Fast forward the clock 17 years, the now 33-year-old Tautari has just joined yet another rare club in New Zealand’s amateur ranks.

one of the youngest ever to line up in the interprovincials to one of the few golfers who have played 100 matches for his province.

The milestone match for Southland came on Friday at the 2019 New Zealand Men’s Interprovincials at the Hastings Golf Club.

Fittingly match No 100 was against his long-time rival and good mate Tim Leonard from South Canterbury.

“We went all the way to the last and he made me putt a one-foot putt on the last.”

Naturally, the special milestone has prompted some reflecting, and for Tautari it’s hard to look past 2011 when he recalls a highlight.

In 2011 Southland won the men’s interprovincial title for the first time in 61 years with Tautari named player of the tournament.

“It was Cody Harper’s last amateur tournament before he turned pro, so to see a good mate like that go with a win, which we hadn’t done for [61 years].”

Tautari has seen many golfers come and go through the amateur ranks during his time playing, including the likes Ryan Fox and Danny Lee who have moved on to the world stage in the pro ranks.

“Foxy sent me a message congratulating me [on the 100th]. They all give me stick, “are you still playing? you still at it?,” Tautari joked.

Tautari admits the thought of also moving into the pro ranks has crossed his mind.

There is a qualifying event at Pukekohe in January which he has an eye on, however adding to his 100 Southland caps also still holds some appeal.

So just what keeps him coming back for more?

“Just a love of the game, I love golf that much. It’s also a great opportunity to see a lot of New Zealand, we get to travel all over New Zealand.”

Tautari was a member of the Southland Golf Club before the closure of the Oreti Sands golf course meant it merged with the Invercargill Golf Club.

Tautari held the Oreti Sands course record, 62, when the course was closed for good last year.

While it is on the golf course where the 33-year-old has made his name, he has another sporting love and talent he is fostering.

For the past four years, he has also taken to the bowling greens.

“That’s one thing I’m really keen on is bowls. They want me to play bowls for Southland but it’s hard juggling my golf at this time of the year trying to play golf and bowls for Southland.

“Golfers do seem to make good bowlers because it’s all line and weight, it’s like putting in a way.”