The rising stars of Golf Croquet on the ball in Nelson

Nelson's Mikey Lauer (pictured) took on South Canterbury's Logan McCorkindale at Easter in singles at the New Zealand Under 21 Golf Croquet Championships at the Nelson Hinemoa Croquet Club.

FRY FASTER / STUFF/Nelson Mail

Nelson’s Mikey Lauer (pictured) took on South Canterbury’s Logan McCorkindale at Easter in singles at the New Zealand Under 21 Golf Croquet Championships at the Nelson Hinemoa Croquet Club.

Many Kiwi teens’ hoop dreams involve a net and NBA aspirations.

Others, like the talented bunch that descended on Nelson at Easter, are more likely to grab their chance at glory with the swing of a hammer.

The Nelson Hinemoa Croquet Club hosted the New Zealand Under 21 Golf Croquet Championship over the Easter weekend.

This is the fifth under-21 national tournament, but it was the first to be held in Nelson, with defending champion Edmund Fordyce looking for a third individual title.

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The South Cantabrian is the Under-21 World Champion and a member of the New Zealand foursome to emerge victorious at the World Championship Croquet Teams Golf Championship held in Nelson in early 2020.

Tournament manager Annie Henry said organizing major croquet events in Nelson was a big deal not only for the club but also for local players.

Twenty participants from across the country are in Nelson for the New Zealand Under 21 Golf Croquet Championships at Nelson Hinemoa Croquet Club over Easter.

FRY FASTER / STUFF

Twenty participants from across the country are in Nelson for the New Zealand Under 21 Golf Croquet Championships at Nelson Hinemoa Croquet Club over Easter.

The tournament started on Friday with two days of doubles, then the singles started on Sunday morning.

The top two players in each of the four blocks advance to the knockout rounds, with the final being a best-of-five match.

The doubles final was an all South Canterbury affair, with Edmund Fordyce and Chris Spittal beating Logan McCorkindale and Kaleb Small 2-7, 7-6, 7-5.

Of the 20 contestants who play in Nelson, four are women who play in the same category as their male counterparts, with Nelson being represented by Vienna van Heeswyck and Michael Lauer.

Lauer’s interest in the sport began with a visit to the Nelson Hinemoa Club while a student at Nelson College Preparatory School.

Nelson's Mikey Lauer (right) plays South Canterbury's Logan McCorkindale (left) in singles, a match that McCorkindale won two games to one.

FRY FASTER / STUFF/Nelson Mail

Nelson’s Mikey Lauer (right) plays South Canterbury’s Logan McCorkindale (left) in singles, a match that McCorkindale won two games to one.

Now deputy head boy and in his senior year at Nelson College, Lauer has created the New Zealand age group and under 21 teams and was chosen as Victor Sports’ first croquet athlete sponsor earlier this year.

Of course, he intended to continue his hammering efforts once he was out of school.

His singles campaign got off to a good start with a 7-6, 7-4 win over Wellington’s Nathan Bullen, before narrowly losing to Logan McCorkindale 5-7, 2-7, 7-4.

NZ Youth Representative Van Heeswyck faced strong opposition in her first two block games, to Kaleb Small and Josh Winter.

The object of Golf Croquet is for each side to cause one or the other balls to run hoops in a particular order on their side.

Players follow a colored ball sequence of blue, red, black and yellow and a point is scored for the side whose ball moves through the ring in sequence first.

There is little margin for error with 1/64 inch clearance in the ring that allows the ball to pass through.

The winner is determined by the best of three 13-point games.

The tournament lasts until Tuesday. The full results can be found here.

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