Masterton Mini Golf manager Katie Manson, the Par Four boys, and Rob Irwin from the Rotary Club presenting their cheque. PHOTO/JOHN MURRAY

ARTHUR HAWKES
arthur.hawkes@age.co.nz

John Middleton, Kyle Sutcliffe and Zac Roberts are men on a mission: to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation – and they’re doing it by playing every one of New Zealand’s 82 mini golf courses, in just 20 days.

Rather than banana bread and sourdough, the trio spent the duration of the lockdown cooking up Par Four, the somewhat unique mental health awareness campaign, which supports a cause close to their hearts.

On Sunday, the Auckland-based trio began their journey, and arrived in Masterton late Wednesday night for their 20th game, making their way to Queen Elizabeth Park on Thursday morning for a crisp 9.30am round.

Upon arrival, Marilyn Bouzaid and Rob Irwin of the Rotary Club presented them with a $200 cheque for their efforts, which will go straight to the foundation.

After completing the round, the lads said they were off to Martinborough’s Green Jersey mini golf.

Despite the nature of the challenge, they admitted they were somewhat lacking in natural golfing acumen. “We’re actually not improving at all,” said Middleton, who is undertaking a PhD in linguistics.

Roberts works for the SkyCity Hotel, with Sutcliffe studying chiropractic medicine.

“It’s a bit of an odd mix, but it works.”

The lads said they’d never been to Masterton before, but couldn’t hang around as they were already booked on this morning’s Picton ferry.

“We have a ferry [Saturday] that we absolutely have to get, but we also have to do a certain number of courses on the way, because we can’t come back – and then we’re in Picton and down to Hamner,” Middleton said.

“[Saturday] we have to be in Hanmer, having played four on the way there, so it’s messy but we’ll get there.”

Speaking on their motivations for the 1600km golf-a-thon, Roberts said the issue of mental health was “super important” to them, and had become a bigger issue after the global pandemic.

“We picked the Mental Health Foundation, because we’ve all struggled with it in the past, and everyone knows someone that’s struggled with it, so it was time to do our bit.

“It’s also a bit for us as well, we’re going to learn a lot about ourselves, and a lot about each other on this trip.”

Sutcliffe said one of the highlights of the trip thus far was playing “naturist” mini golf at a nude campsite.

“We went to a mini golf on a naturist campsite, and it kicked off, it was very funny.”

The lads said they “absolutely” got their kit off, and completed all nine holes in the nip.