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Firefighter eyes gold on the green

Lisa Marie Ireland is a qualified electrician with her own business, a volunteer Martinborough firefighter, and now a New Zealand golf representative.

She is one of three New Zealanders selected for the 46th Australasian Fire Brigades Golf Championships, held in Darwin in August.

Ireland earned the spot after representing the Martinborough Volunteer Fire Brigade at the PBI 60th NZ Firefighters National Golf Tournament in Taupō.

There are 160 to 180 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand who attend the 36-hole Australasian event, but only six players from each of the nine states [eight Australian states and Aotearoa] compete for the overall teams events – the Nett and Stableford tournaments. The last time a New Zealand team won was in Queenstown in 2019.

Ireland joined the Martinborough brigade 14 years ago and is a regular on the roster.

Her initial exposure to golf was during a Year 13 PE assessment at Kuranui College.

She later entered a junior programme at Martinborough Golf Club, where club member Bill Jones provided coaching.

“[He] took on the young ones and trained us up,” Ireland said.

Now she plays casually, aiming to get to the green once a week when her busy life permits.

Her advice to young people wanting to get into the sport is to “just give it a go”.

“It can be hard to get into if no one in your family plays, so take advantage of the opportunities. You get to travel to different courses, and it’s always a different experience.”

Men still dominate golfing greens in New Zealand, but Ireland said more women are becoming involved with the sport than when she first started.

She described the Martinborough Golf Club as “a collegial environment that welcomes all people and provides opportunities to get others involved” – such as a regular women’s night.

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