Ever played with balls that glow in the dark?

Friday 10 June 2011, 11:41AM
By Special Olympics New Zealand


• Stars on Pars – a new night golf event for Bay of Plenty golfing gurus
• MC – Peter Williams, golf nut, from TVNZ
• Challenging courses made even more challenging as Ambrose teams compete in the dark using whatever means they can to win!
• Supporting Special Olympics New Zealand
• Focused on changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities

Phil Leishman, New Zealand’s ‘Mr Golf’ is right behind this latest sensation. Stars on Pars is a new golfing tournament enticing the hardiest golfers out onto five of New Zealand’s top courses, in the winter and in the dark, all in aid of charity. “I think it’s an absolute winner and we’re backing this series all the way”, says Leishman.

The Mount Maunganui Golf Club sees the launch of the Stars on Pars series for Special Olympics New Zealand and Phil Leishman will be bugging everyone he knows in the area to get in behind the event. Tee off is 6.00pm on Wednesday 6 July.

Kathy Gibson, CEO for Special Olympics New Zealand and herself a keen golfer, is very excited about being the first organisation to trial a competitive series played at night. “Our mantra at Special Olympics is to ‘be brave in the attempt’, and golfers taking part in this series will certainly need their wits about them as they drive their specially designed glow-in-the-dark golf balls up the fairway, in the winter and under the stars.”

Teams of eight, made up of four players and four supporters, register to play at one or more of the four Ambrose events around the country. They complete nine holes of the 18 with special competitive grade glow-in-the-dark balls. They can draw on their supporters to help them find wayward balls on the course. The courses are unlit – but there are ways to get around that using glow-sticks, the occasional torch or other cunning ploys to get ahead.

While part of the team entry fee of $1400 goes towards the costs of the tournament, the teams are encouraged to fundraise the remainder and more. “Given the current economic climate we need to think outside the square to create an event that is appealing as well as worthwhile. We’re targeting $100,000 to support our nationwide programme for more than 5800 athletes, including our top level golfers who boast some very impressive handicaps,” says Kathy Gibson.

“We’re really excited to be launching the event at the Mount – our star Special Olympics athlete, Jason Ewens, plays for Otumoetai with a handicap of 16.7. Pretty impressive by anyone’s standards. He’ll be there competing with all the other players and vying for some terrific prizes donated by the wonderfully generous Bay of Plenty community. We are also delighted that Peter Williams, known for his golfing prowess let alone his work on TVNZ, will be MC for this inaugural event,” says Kathy.

To register a team, players just need to head to Teams should get their registrations in quickly – Stars on Pars looks set to become the winter event that ‘sorts the men from the boys’.

For more information or to register please go to 

Tournament locations and dates:
Tauranga – Mt Maunganui Golf Club, Wednesday 6 July
Feilding – Feilding Golf Club, Wednesday 20 July
Wellington – Boulcott Farm Heritage Club, Wednesday 3 August
Auckland – Akarana Golf Club, Thursday 25 August

Teams can register on, encouraging friends, family and colleagues to sponsor them for Stars on Pars

Special Olympics New Zealand

Special Olympics New Zealand offers a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

More than 5,800 athletes train and compete in 14 different Olympic-type summer and winter sports throughout New Zealand. Each year, Special Olympics New Zealand runs more than 200 events in over 40 towns and cities around the country. These events are supported by over 2500 volunteers and are facilitated through a network of Regional Sports Coordinators.

While sport is the basis of the organisation, the benefits of participating in Special Olympics are much greater than physical fitness. Special Olympics changes lives. Through participating in sport, athletes with intellectual disabilities make friends; they gain confidence; they get to be part of a team. As athletes develop physically and emotionally, they learn that they can achieve not only on the sports field, but in the community.

Special Olympics New Zealand was founded in 1983 in Lower Hutt by Grant Quinn. It is a registered Charitable Trust.

Our top golfers

Jason Ewens, Tauranga
A member of the Otumoetai Golf club playing off a 16.7 handicap, Jason’s 4th placing at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China was one of his many golfing highlights. He also won a Gold medal in Division One at the 2009 SONZ National Games and would be the highest ranked golfer within Special Olympics New Zealand’s golfing community

Conrad Ryan, Manawatu
A member of Palmerston North Golf club playing off a 36 handicap. Conrad’s greatest achievements in golf so far are winning a Gold medal at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland and a Bronze medal in Division Two at the 2009 SONZ National Games. He regularly beats his Dad when they play against each other.

Craig Torrance, Otago
A member of the Chisholm Park Golf club golf club playing off a 23 handicap. Craig’s greatest golfing achievements to date are to have ‘crushed’ Christchurch in last year’s competition in Dunedin, and to have shot an 82 off the stick at Chisholm to beat his Dad in 2010.

James Farrell, Hawkes Bay
A member of the Napier Golf club playing off a 36 handicap. James’ achievements in golf include winning a Gold medal in Division Two at the 2009 SONZ National Games, and when he became a member of the Lowe Corp Twilight Business House Golf Summer Competition.

Jason Luke Donovan, Kapiti
A member of the Kapiti Golf club and playing off a 32 handicap. Jason’s golfing achievements includes winning a Silver medal in Division Two at the 2009 Special Olympics New Zealand National Games.

Michael Condor, Tauranga
A member of the Otumoetai Golf club playing off an 18 handicap. Michael won a Bronze medal at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland which he counts as one of his greatest golfing achievements.