Eight southern mates to tee off for a great cause

by Kim Bowden - Dec 20, 2023

A group of golfing buddies are prepping for a huge day on the course this January, all in the name of a cause close to their hearts.

‘The Birdies’, as the ladies call themselves, are eight friends who live in and around the Wakatipu.

In the New Year, they’ll be playing 72 holes of golf in one day to raise money for the Cancer Society.

Their day will begin at 6.30am at Millbrook Resort, where they will play 36 holes; then it is on to Arrowtown Golf Club, where they will play the 18-hole course twice.

They expect to finish up for at 8pm.

Each of them, in one way or another, has been impacted by cancer, and their epic golfing mission is in aid of gathering funds for the Cancer Society.

For Jo Neep, it is deeply personal.

She lives with cancer – myeloma - and says it is both a physical and mental challenge.

She says her illness is treatable but will never go away.

“It festers inside growing slowly until it breaks through the drug barrier, only to be battered back by stronger, more toxic chemo.

“Meanwhile the body seesaws between being ravaged to looking and feeling okay.”

She says the Cancer Society understands this fight and are a good sounding board providing counselling and practical help when need. 

The Birdies have gathered before to raise funds for the charity and Ms Neep says she is “both touched and proud” they are back to do it again.

Last year, she was too sick to join them.

Birdie Jackie Hamilton says 72 holes in is four times the usual amount of golf generally played in a day.

She says the crew will be out on the course “whatever the weather gods choose to throw at us on the day”.

This year – their third – they will be dressing in ‘Hawaiian’ themed outfits. 

Ms Hamilton says it is in honour of the important role a “support crew” can play in doing what they can to brighten a cancer patient’s journey.

When you find out a loved one has cancer you feel quite helpless really.”

In her view, raising awareness of the Cancer Society “is the least we can do”. 

“It feels like no-one has any answers, but in fact Cancer Society is full of resources to share, that allow some additional peace of mind."  

Keen to offer your support for a good cause? The Birdies fundraising page can be found here.

Main image (Supplied): The Birdies, back row from left, Sarah Pearson, Mairi Rabi, Leanne Hobbs, Janie Reese, Jackie Hamilton, and Jo Neep, and, front row from left, Joanna Booker and Kelly MacKenzie.

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