Bernie McGuire – Hits First Golf Shot Of 2000 At Midnight On Tonga Golf Club Course.

At the stroke of midnight, Saturday 1st January, 2000 I officially hit the first golf shot on a golf course of the new millennium.

This historic golfing achievement took place on the Tonga Golf Club course in the capital of Nuku‘alofa.

The nine-hole Tonga Golf Club course, and also known as the Manamo’ui Golf Course, is the only golf course on this tiny Pacific Island nation.

Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising island with a total surface area of about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean, of which 52 islands are inhabited by its 103,000 people.

The GPS co-ordinates for Tonga are:

Latitude: -21° 14′ 30.44″ S
Longitude: -175° 07′ 42.76″ W

As such, Tonga is just 5° longitude from the International Dateline and the Tonga Golf Course being the most easterly golf world in the world.

With the world getting more-and-more excited in welcoming in a new millennium, and if you were like me also learning how to spell this ‘new’ word millennium, I thought why not get yourself organised and head to the world’s most easterly golf course and hit the first golf shot of 2000 on a golf course.

The 9-hole Tonga Golf Club course, the most easterly golf in the world, and a golf course boasting the largest leaf grass I’ve ever played on – buffalo grass and the leafs as big as your fingers. (Photo – Tonga GC)

I thus arranged from myself to travel a few days proir to the 1st January, 2000 from my home city of Sydney, Australia via Auckland, New Zealand and onto Tonga.

Given the fuss surrounding the arrival of the year 2000 there was no trouble finding ‘Welcome to 200o’ banners (see photograph above) along with posters and bunting.

After introducing myself to club staff and advising of my intentions, I was advised the Tonga Golf Club was also going to celebrate the dawn of a new century with a special ‘YK2’ (Year 2000) two-round event, firstly playing 18 holes on Friday 31st December, 1999 and the second 18 holes the next day on 1st January, 2000.

Tonga preparing to celebrate a new millennium

I enjoyed competing in the first round of Tonga’s YK 2 tournament, getting the chance to meet many of the members, and join them afterwards in a bar-b-que.

Then after heading back to my accommodation for the week, I returned in the darkness to the course course arriving around 11pm.  Then with the help of Tonga Golf Club members led by captain Paula Tupou and his wife Lesieli along with course greenkeeper Sione Wight along with a few car headlights, we set-up a few 2000 theme items around the first tee.

Of course, I had brought a driver, golf balls and tees with me.

Then on the stroke of midnight I drove a golf ball into the darkness and not knowing whether if found the fairway or whatever, other than I knew I had hit it off the tee.  I was followed off the tee by Paula, Lesieli and Sione ahead of taking a few snap shots.

There was then this most bizarre incident some 30 minutes later when golf club carrying club members Frank and Colleen Cowley, arrived at the course from having atttended midnight mass hoping they would be the first of 2000 to tee-up on the golf course.

The next day, and it being January 1st, 2000, club member David Kongaika created a world millennim first in grabbing a ‘hole-in-one’ in what was the sccond and closing round Tongan clubs YK2 tournament (See photographs below)

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 credit – Bernie McGuire & not Alarmy)

I remember that 1st January, 2000 also especially as an American named Bill Areson, and with access to a private jet, teed-up with me at 6.35am on that second and final 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 albeit some 5,000 klms north-east.

You see, it was still the 31st December, 1999 on the opposite side of the International Dateline and this American was intent in not playing a first game in 2000 but also uniquely become the only person to also then play a last game of golf 1999 on a course in Hawaii.

Disappointintly, I did not obtain Bill’s contact details before wishing well.

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:

Click on: writer+hits+the+first+golf+shot+of+2000%3b+BERNIE+IN…-a060846340


You may read reports of the island of Kiribati was the first to see in 2000 however Kiribati, and lying east of the International Dateline however the island of Kiribate conveniently ruled itself to be now lying left of the dateline, and with the dateline now looking like this stupid-looking opened box lying on its side on maps showing the dateline.

I’ve also heard an unknown New Zealand golfer hit the first golf shot of 2000 but if he did, he did not perform that short, if true or not, on a golf course.



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