Matt Tautari has been a familiar name in Southland golf since he made his debut for the province about 20 years ago.
Now the talented golfer, who plays out of Invercargill Golf Club, has celebrated his 100th game for the region at senior level – and is eyeing 150 and beyond.
Tautari started playing golf as a 10-year-old, tagging along with his dad and friends when they teed off. He soon signed up as a member at Queens Park and made Southland’s representative junior team at age 13.
His first game for Southland at senior level was at Coringa Golf Club in Christcurch, as a 16-year-old, playing at number one in the order.
Even then he had a feeling representing Southland was something he would get more familiar with.
“I just love the game, I love playing for Southland,” he said.
“It’s home, it’s where golf started for me and the boys we go away with, we’ve grown up playing golf together.”
“I like the competitive side of golf, and I really like how we come together as a team and getting to play as a team in what is an individual sport.”
Tautari’s 100th match for Southland came up during last week’s New Zealand Interprovincial at Hastings and he admits the pressure to win it was on.
“I think there’s only three players in the last 20 years who have done it (won their 100th matches) … and they’ve all played down the order in the team. So to be at number one it was quite a tough match. It went right to the last hole, but I wanted to earn it.”
Tautari says Southland’s win in the 2011 New Zealand Interprovincial was a real highlight of his career, and was a special time for Southland golf.
He is confident Southland can get back to those heights.
“It was awesome. We knew we had a team that could win it, we’d been together four or five years and it (the win) was really in the making.”
Playing in the New Zealand Open as a 15-year-old was another highlight – and no doubt, there are plenty more to come.
So what’s next for Tautari?
“150,” he said.
“I’ll probably just keep going until I can’t make the team anymore. I’ll play as long as I can, and then probably play Masters.”