Twenty-One Years Ago Bernie’s Historic First New ‘Millenium’ Tee Shot On A Golf Course In Tonga

Twenty-one years ago today, and in the spirit of a new Millennium, I hit the first golf shot on a golf course of this millenium at midnight on the 1st January, 2000 on the tiny Pacific Ocean island of Tonga.

I flew from Sydney via Auckland to the Tongan capital of Nuku ‘alofa.

Tonga encompasses around 170 islands of which 36 are inhabited while some 70% of the now 100,000 total population of the islands live on the main island.

So why go to Tonga to golf?

Bernie (left) on the morning of 1st January, 2000 and after having at midnight become the first to hit a golf shot on a golf course in 2000. The Pacific Island club then celebrated two other firsts when club member David Kongaika ensured his place in golf history later that morning at 8.40am when he aced the 124-metre, par-four seventh. Then just a couple of hours later, Elina Maka was also was celebrating when she too hit a hole-in-one also at the seventh.  No club this century will be able to beat these three 2000 golfing firsts! (Photo – Bernie McGuire)

Tonga is located two-thirds of the way between New Zealand and Hawii.

The International Dateline lies just to east of Tonga and with Tonga boasting the most easterly golf course in the world.

Before jetting out of Sydney, I organised myself with ‘Welcome to 200o’ banners (see photograph above), posters and bunting and then jetted off to Tonga.

The nine-hole Tonga Club chose to celebrate the dawn of a new century with a special ‘YK2’ (Year 2000) event firstly playing 18 holes on 31st December, 1999  and the second 18 holes on 1st January, 2000.

I made my way to the golf course around 11pm on 31st December and with the course naturally in darkness but thanks to help of a couple of the locals we used car headlights to light-up the first tee while I set-up the banners I had brought with me.

Then on the stroke of midnight I drove a golf ball into the darkness and a golf course boasting the largest leaf grass I’ve ever played on – buffalo grass and the leafs as big as your fingers.

No sooner had history been created and sadly an elderly couple arrived soon after and having left midnight mass with same intention only to be scooped by a visiting Aussie.

The next day and on the second day of the event one of the club members got a ‘hole-in-one’ on the second day of the Tongan YK2 tournament (See photograph)

Bernie (left) at the Pacific Island club on 1st January, 2000 to help celebrate club member David Kongaika (right) ensure his place in golf history at 8.40am ib 1st January, 2000 when he aced the 124-metre, par-four seventh. Then just a couple of hours later, Elina Maka (centre) was also celebrating when she too hit a hole-in-one also at the seventh. (Photo – Bernie McGuire)

I remember that 1st January, 2000 also as an American named Bill Areson with access to a private jet teed-up with me at 6.35am on the second day competition on the Tonga Golf Club and then after completing his round he headed to the airport to board his flight heading east to Hawaii.

You see, it was still the 31st December, 1999 on the opposition side of the International Dateline and the gentleman was intending to play a first game in 2000 and the be the only person to also then play a last game of golf 1999 on a course in Hawaii.

How is that for uniquness?

After I had completed my second round I headed back to my hotel and very proudly wrote the story of my historic midnight shot for the Daily Record and appearing in the 2nd January, 2000 edition.

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