NEW Zealand age group golf champion Liam Hewitt (pictured) is dedicating the next year to the game and he hopes the Southland community will come along for the ride.
The 21-year-old dreams of one day representing Southland and New Zealand on the international stage as a professional golfer, but he needs financial backing to help make those dreams a reality.
“I’m planning to get as much golf in as I can over the next nine to 12 months practice a lot and play heaps of tournaments to get as good as I can,” he said ahead of this week’s New Zealand strokeplay championships in Christchurch.
“From there I’ll know just what it’s going to take and how long it will take to get to the professional level because that’s the ultimate goal.”
Hewitt recently resigned from his job at Windsor Architectural Hardware so he could commit fully to improving his game.
“I’ve been working pretty hard on my golf this year, getting out just about every day after work but that’s only about 10 hours of practice a week and really I need to be doing 25 or 30 hours a week as the benchmark for an amateur looking to improve,” he said.
“To be able to get somewhere closer to 30 hours of practice a week would do wonders for my game. It was a tough decision to make, tough to say goodbye, but it was definitely the right call to make for me. I’m super grateful for everything they have done for me.”
The 2019 New Zealand under-19 strokeplay winner had played three Charles Tour events before Covid-19 disrupted domestic golf.
His best result was last year’s New Zealand strokeplay championships, where he finished tied for 30th overall and tied for 10th in the amateur standings.
He hopes regular play in New Zealand and Australia will see his world amateur rank improve from just inside 1200 to somewhere in the top 100, with a range of professional options opening up at that point.
“I’ve won some good events and I’ve wondered what more I could do if I keep working hard, if I just went that extra step. I’m really excited about the opportunity. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and time, but that’s the goal.”
Southland businesses are getting behind the young golfer, with an estimated $40,000 required to support his aspirations.
Back9 Creative Studio has developed a website and provided ongoing support for Hewitt, with owner Phil Robinson saying he was happy to take a punt on a fellow Southlander. “I didnt’ know Liam well going into this but I’ve been impressed by his dedication and work ethic and it would be great to see other Southland businesses get in behind him as well.”
Hewitt said part of his commitment was ensuring his financial backers would be recognised and be updated on his progress.