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The September 2023 issue of Inside Golf is online for your viewing pleasure.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Will Team Europe claim the Ryder Cup in Italy and say ‘Arrivederci’ to the powerful USA team?
TECH ON THE TEE
The latest golfing gadgets to help you play your best!
REGIONAL CLUB OF THE MONTH
Parkes Golf Club
PUBLIC COURSE OF THE MONTH
Little Para Golf Course
Devilbend Golf Club
Mornington Peninsula & NWS Central Coast
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Cricketer Trevor Hohns
By Michael Davis
IT is an absolute conundrum as to why Melbourne golf galleries will miss out on hosting the Australian Open again after the relative success of the mixed and all-abilities event at Kingston Heath and Victoria last year.
At last, Melbourne had prised the tournament away from Sydney where it seemed to have been staged for an eternity. And by and large the city responded with strong, appreciative crowds on each of the four days.
Now, quite amazingly, the event is going back to Sydney, insiders at Golf Australia saying they had no alternative but to honour the last year of a mutli-year agreement set in stone with the NSW government to host the country’s national open.
Regardless of the nuances of the deal, staging the tournament back in the Harbour City feels like a snub for Victoria.
To me, biased or otherwise, Melbourne has always been the home of golf in Australia; not just because it has by a fair margin the best golf courses but also because galleries seem to understand the game better.
Having said that, I would much prefer the Australian Open to be rotated around the country with every state given the chance to host the championship. But I feel this is an absolute pipe dream.
So, we just have to grin and bear it. The ISPS HANDA Australian Open is returning to Sydney with The Australian and The Lakes golf clubs set to host the tournament from November 30 to December 3.
Again, it will feature the continuation of the joint tournament format that will allow fans to see some of the best men and women golfers playing for different titles on the same course at the same time.
In addition to the Men’s Australian Open and the Women’s Australian Open titles, the event will celebrate further inclusiveness through the Australian All-Abilities Championship.
The men’s Open returns to The Australian for the first time since 2019, while the women’s Open homecoming to Sydney is 16 years in the making, with Royal Sydney Golf Club hosting the last event in the NSW capital when Karrie Webb was victorious.
The Australian Golf Club will be the host venue across the four days with nearby The Lakes Golf Club selected as co-host for the first two days of play.
The Australian is a Jack Nicklaus signature design and is well versed with the national men’s Open having hosted 21 times, including recent years in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Equally, The Lakes is a seven-time host of the men’s Australian Open, including 1964, 1980, 1992, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2018.
The dual ISPS HANDA Australian Opens will carry a minimum of $3.4 million prizemoney. The men’s event will be co-sanctioned by the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and DP World Tour – although we’re not sure how that will work following the détente with LIV Golf – hopefully ensuring Australian golf is on the world stage for two consecutive weeks of the summer. The Fortinet Australian PGA Championship will be staged at Royal Queensland the week before the Australian Open.
The WPGA Tour of Australasia will again sanction the women’s event with the Patricia Bridges Bowl going to the winner, while the men will play for the Stonehaven Cup.
This year’s Australian Open will also feature the fourth edition of the Australian All-Abilities Championship (AAAC), which assembles the top World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) players supported by global partners EDGA and G4D Tour. Golf Australia’s chief executive officer James Sutherland was understandably spruiking the party line at the official announcement of the Open’s return to Sydney.
“We’re incredibly excited to return to Sydney for this national event, and thankful to our partner, the NSW Government, for their long-standing support for the sport and the ISPS Handa Australian Open,” said Sutherland.
“With fantastic golfing facilities and a city that features some of Australia’s most well-known icons and tourist destinations, we will enthusiastically welcome golf fans and event goers to this unique event in Sydney.
“After such positive feedback last year, we’re pleased to be able to bring the tournament to Sydney and know that the mixed format of men’s, women’s and all-abilities in one tournament will be appreciated by fans from far and wide.
“Last year the world-first national open format pushed boundaries and broke new ground for golf – the event will be further enhanced this year and will again talk to our commitment to growing golf as a sport for all.”
DP World Tour chief tournament business officer Ben Cowen said: “We are delighted to see the ISPS HANDA Australian Open return to Sydney in an exciting format which gives fans the chance to witness some of the best men, women and all-abilities golfers tee it up on iconic Australian golf courses.”
Good luck to them, but I reckon Melbourne can feel a little duped not to be given a second consecutive crack at staging the event.
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PROFESSIONAL golf, like surfing, is about momentum.
When you’re sitting in the line-up, you spot an opportunity and it’s your time to take off, how you maximise the wave that sweeps through determines success or failure.
It’s when preparation meets opportunity; when instinct and training meld effortlessly and you ride that momentum for as long as you can.
When Victorian David Micheluzzi birdied three of his final four holes at the WA PGA Championship in the desert of Kalgoorlie last October, it set off a chain of events that has since taken him around the world.
Subsequent wins at TPS Sydney and the NSW Open didn’t just earn Micheluzzi the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit crown, it opened doors to a PGA Tour debut and major championship appearances at both the US PGA Championship and Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
It was a summer slam not seen for almost 20 years and opened the eyes of his contemporaries to what’s possible.
Here are seven players expected to line up for their own endless summer.
Louis Dobbelaar: It’s been 18 months since Dobbelaar burst onto the scene and threatened to dominate the Aussie tour in the manner of Micheluzzi last year. He was third at the Australian PGA won by Jed Morgan in January 2022, third again a week later at the Queensland PGA and then fifth at TPS Hunter Valley seven weeks later. Dobbelaar endured a difficult period thereafter but broke through at the NZ PGA in March. Expect that to be his springboard into a big season.
Brett Coletta: One of the “can’t miss” kids who had their progress disrupted by Covid-19, Coletta narrowly missed PGA Tour promotion via the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019. He had just two top-10s in 31 starts across the 2020 and 2021 seasons before recapturing the type of form that made him one of the world’s top amateurs. He was runner-up at the Vic PGA and then shot a course record nine-under par 61 in the final round of TPS Hunter Valley to tie Lincoln Tighe and ultimately win in a playoff. The international scene beckons
Daniel Gale: You can only knock on the door so many times before it completely caves in. Winner of the SP PNG Open in his rookie season in 2018, the Sydneysider with the quirky swing has regularly been in contention of late and recently won the NT PGA Championship after four top 20 finishes last year including runner-up to Micheluzzi at TPS Sydney. Expect to see more good results over summer.
Haydn Barron: Last year’s Rookie of the Year has now played a major championship as he endeavours to take his game to the next level. Barron’s eagle at the 72nd hole and tie for fourth at the Australian Open secured his spot at The Open Championship where he missed the cut with rounds of 74-77. His game is developing quickly; a shot of confidence could be all it needs to take him over the edge.
Lawry Flynn: Any player who flirts with 59 in a tour event is one worth watching. A left-handed flusher from Dalby west of Brisbane, Flynn won the Malaysian Amateur Open in 2019 and won the Maroochy River Pro-Am in his pro debut in 2021. He went 63-62 in the middle rounds to play his way into the final group at the WA Open last October and then became just the fourth player to shoot 60 in a PGA Tour of Australasia event in round 3 of TPS Sydney in February. His time is coming.
Maverick Antcliff: An extraordinary run on the China Tour in 2019 brought Antcliff to the attention of the golf world. In 11 successive events he won three times, was runner-up once, third once and top 10 a further four times, winning the Order of Merit with almost double the prizemoney of his nearest challenger. It earned Antcliff a spot on the DP World Tour where he finished tied for third at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in his rookie season in 2020. He was second at the Canary Islands Championship the following season but has endured a difficult run the past two years. A summer on home soil might be just the spark he needs.
Lachlan Barker: Look beyond Barker’s victory at the season-opening PNG Open in May and you will see a player who has been building towards something big. The Malaysian Amateur Open champion in 2016, Barker joined Iowa State University in 2017 and over the next five years compiled a stroke average of 72.06, the second-best in school history. He missed a playoff at the Queensland PGA by two strokes and now has a win on tour to his name. The world awaits.
RORY vs Scheffler! Jon Rahm vs Brooks Koepka!
Captain Luke Donald vs captain Zach Johnson!
Can the Ryder Cup of 2023 get any better than that?
Short answer: You bet it can!
The United States are defending champions – having hammered the Europeans at Whistling Straits two years ago.
But wait! This time it’s being played in Europe, at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome.
The first time it has been played in Italy and certain to bring the most parochial of crowds to witness golf’s biggest event of the year.
And guess what? With or without LIV players in their ranks, the Europeans can win.
Granted, the absence of England’s Ian Poulter and almost certainly American Patrick Reed might take a fair bit of the ‘needle’ out of the event. They’re both players that their opponents love to hate … and beat.
Team Europe made the decision early on not to pick any LIV players so that’s ‘arrivederci’ to Poulter as well as Cup legends like Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
The cocky Americans, on the other hand, in their desperation to hang onto the Cup have agreed that LIV stars like Brooks Koepka and probably ‘Mr 58’ Bryson Dechambeau can play.
Is that enough to turn back the European challenge?
I think not.
American skipper Zach Johnson has some very handy vice-captains in Steve Stricker, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Fred Couples to keep him on top of things during the Cup, which runs from September 25 to October 1.
Yet you could also argue that European captain Luke Donald, thrown into the deep end when Henrik Stenson lost his captaincy spot for joining LIV, will have just as much support with the like of Thomas Bjorn (a former winning captain), Nicolas Colsaerts and Italian Edoardo Molinari as his deputies.
If you look at the Cup certainties from both sides, there is barely a struck match between them.
It will be great theatre to watch the likes of McIlroy, Rahm, Hovland and Fleetwood take on the US big guns like Scheffler, Koepka, Schauffele and Cantlay.
While the Cup may be won or lost there, I prefer to suggest it is in the lower-rated players that will really decide who takes home the Cup this year.
That’s where the spectators may come into play and will need to do their bit.
The last time the Ryder Cup was played on European soil, in France in 2018, more than 270,000 spectators flooded Le Golf National. That Cup reached more than 600 million homes with more than 160 countries tuning in to watch the events live on television.
Certainly, this Ryder Cup is the ideal tool for promoting a sport that boasts 65 million players worldwide. Even Australian golfers walk and talk it (and cheer for Europe, mostly).
So, to the golf course: Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, designed by the famous architect Jim Fazio, and completely renewed by Tom Fazio II and European Golf Design to host this year’s Cup.
This course has already hosted three editions of the Italian Open as well as some other important professional and amateur tournaments.
Measuring 7299 metres, with a par of 72, it unfolds in an exceptionally-large area, giving the players a real sense of freedom.
Its proximity to Rome is regarded as an added attraction to visiting Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
Like Le Golf National, this course’s amphitheatre, as well as lakes, shape the landscape and create some spectacular views. It can comfortably host 50,000 visitors a day.
So where will the Cup be won and lost?
Well, some key holes will definitely be the second and the 15th, for varying reasons.
The second can give these champion players the chance for an early lead.
It’s a 435m par-4 indexed as the hardest hole on the course and can certainly set up a streak for the best players in the world.
A long dogleg left par-4, there’s a bunker on the central line of the hole.
According to the golf instructors at Marco Simone, these experienced golfers can play over the bunker with a good drive, leaving a medium iron to reach the green.
For those who choose the safest line on the right side of the fairway, it will require a long iron for their second shot, paying attention to the bunker positioned 40m before the green.
Still, it is the 15th hole where many matches may be decided.
With a stroke index of two, the second-hardest hole on the course, measuring 438m, is a long uphill par-4 starting from above with a slight dogleg right.
According to the experts, the way to play this hole for these ‘experienced’ masters of the game, is to keep to the left side of the fairway to avoid ending up in the bunker positioned on the right side.
Then there’s a second shot, with a medium iron, to reach the flag.
A poor tee shot – and let’s be honest, under pressure, there could be a few, leaves players with a long iron to the green and brings three bunkers protecting the green on the right side into play.
And should they all make it to the final holes. Well, the 17th is a pretty par-3 with water encroaching on the left-side of the green and could again bring some drama if the players get too greedy and go for a left-side flag.
The final hole is a par-5 that these superstars can reach in two – if they have a crack.
Measuring 570m, this hole has a wide fairway that allows powerful players to reach the green with the second shot – as long as they’re careful of the water hazard front left of the green.
Bring it on! The Cup may be won by someone in the last group; on the final hole.
And we can’t wait.
RYDER CUP TEAM SELECTION
THE US Team will be made up from the top six eligible players in the points rankings with six captain’s picks.
The European Team will be made up from the top three eligible players from the European Points List, the top three eligible players from the World Points List and six captain’s picks.
RYDER CUP SCORING
EACH match is worth one point, with matches ending in a tie worth ½ point to each side. The first team to reach 14 ½ points wins the Ryder Cup. If the matches end in a 14-14 tie, the team holding the Ryder Cup retains it.
Points: The three days of the matches consist of 28 total matches, each of which is worth one point. There are no extra holes in Ryder Cup matches. Should the two sides be tied after 18 holes, each side earns a half point.
Claiming the Cup: To win the Ryder Cup outright, a team must collect 14 ½ of the 28 points available. In the case of a 14-14 tie, the winning team from the previous Ryder Cup retains the trophy.
Conclussion: Unlike stroke play, players don’t have to complete each hole in match play. If a player concedes a stroke – almost always a putt – to his opponent, the opponent picks up his ball, takes the score he would have made on the next stroke and moves on to the next hole.
The post Ryder Cup showdown looms large first appeared on Inside Golf. Australia's Most-Read Golf Magazine as named by Australian Golfers - FREE.
SCOTLAND’S Sam Torrance loves the Ryder Cup.
After all, he represented Europe eight times between 1981-1995 and was the man of the moment in 1985 when he helped Europe defeat the powerful American team for the first time in 28 years.
It was Torrance who sank the winning putt on the 18th green at The Belfry in England to deprive the Yanks.
He also was a member of Cup-winning teams in 1987. That year Europe won on American soil for the first time.
In 2002, Torrance was the European team’s non-playing captain and led his team to victory at The Belfry, which made him the second European to sink the winning putt and captain a winning team at separate Ryder Cups.
The great Seve Ballesteros was the first to do it in 1987 (as a player) and 1997 (as captain).
A winner of 46 professional events including the 1980 Australian PGA Championship at Royal Melbourne, Torrance also represented Scotland 11 times at the World Cup and nine times at the Alfred Dunhill Cup.
Recently AceOdds (aceodds.com) caught up with Torrance, 70, to ask him a few questions about his Ryder Cup experiences, winning the Australian PGA and more.
What was your favourite Ryder Cup moment?
Being captain, by a million miles. That was extremely special. Playing in it is obviously very meaningful and exciting and rewarding, but to be the captain, win or lose, was beyond belief to be honest.
What were the biggest challenges you faced as captain?
Speeches. There was nothing that bothered me, every other aspect of it, picking the clothing, putting the teams out was great. Being friends with them, talking to them. Every aspect of the Ryder Cup I looked forward to. But the opening and closing ceremonies terrified me. I got some great help from a guy called David Purdie (a Scotsman), who I heard speaking at the Sunningdale centenary dinner. He was magnificent. As soon as he finished, I went up and introduced myself and he says, ‘yes Sam, I know who you are’. I said, ‘well, I want you to help me with the Ryder Cup’ and he looked at me and said: ‘But Sam, I’m an amateur.’ I didn’t want him to play! But he was magnificent in helping me … just little things. I spent a lot of time with him in the years building up and that was a huge help.
Italy was selected to host the Ryder Cup for the first time, and 90 per cent of tickets sold have been to foreigners (non-Italians). What do you make of that?
Yeah, I don’t know how that happened. But I suppose if 10 per cent went to the Italians then that’s quite a lot of tickets. But that’s political so I have no idea how that happened.
Do you think the nature of the country that hosts it influences the event?
Well, they’ll certainly be eating very well and drinking very well. The nature of the Italians. Yeah, of course. France was magnificent, the cultures are there. But in the end, it’ll just be these 12 guys against the other 12 on a golf course and let the best team win. It will be fantastic.
And what was your biggest career highlight?
Well, captain of the Ryder Cup, but as a player, winning the Australian PGA on Royal Melbourne, which is an incredible golf course. I’ve been very lucky. I won at Royal Melbourne and in the Irish Open. And won twice at St Andrews – one with my son. That was very special.
What was your most memorable shot?
I think the 1998 French Open on the 17th at the Le Golf National, where the Ryder Cup was played in 2018. I think I was tied for the lead with two holes to go. The 18 is a par-5, and 17 was kind of the toughest on the course. I hit a seven-wood to a foot to make birdie. I needed just a five at the last to win it and did so that was probably the most memorable one. And it was actually my last win on the European Tour, so I wasn’t a spring chicken.
And what is your favourite golf course?
St Andrews. I love the Open at St Andrews. I love the Dunhill Cup and the Dunhill Links. I loved everything about St Andrews. I actually built a golf course there and spent three months living in the town. It’s such a fabulous place. You actually see it then when you’re playing in the Open or the Dunhill. It’s so busy, restaurants are full, and you have the freedom of just wandering about this wonderful little city with this golf course that virtually comes up the high street is quite amazing.
Footnote: Next month Sam Torrance tells us who were his toughest opponents, funny moments in golf and more.
The post Play it again, Sam first appeared on Inside Golf. Australia's Most-Read Golf Magazine as named by Australian Golfers - FREE.
SHE’S one of the icons of the women’s professional game in Australia.
Yet these days Rachel Hetherington rarely picks up a golf club.
And as the eight-time LPGA winner in the US is happy to admit … she’s probably living her life ‘in reverse’ these days.
That’s because Hetherington, married to former Australian Test cricketer Greg Ritchie, is busy studying, working hard at a day-time job and giving golf not much more than a passing thought.
And that thought usually revolves around her 11-year-old daughter Annie, who is only now falling in love with the game and can usually talk Mum into maybe caddying or hitting a half dozen balls – just to see if she’s still ‘got it’.
And Rachel wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 51-year-old had a stellar career winning eight LPGA events, three Ladies European Tour titles and a World Cup of Golf with Karrie Webb.
And then there were the narrow major misses – runner-up in the 2004 British Open and the 2001 Kraft Nabisco – while travelling a million miles to ply her trade over the years.
And it took a fractured ankle and some months out of the game for her to realise she didn’t miss it as much as she thought she might.
And maybe it was time to try something different in life.
So, while she still loves watching the game and takes a keen interest in it, these days there are other priorities in life.
“I am a PA for a solicitor,” she told Inside Golf. “I’m actually studying law. Ultimately, I thought I might try to build a CV in the real world, after retiring from golf.
“My first job was with Mantra in guest services – I had been in travel and travelled and was familiar with all that stuff and there were not too many things I hadn’t experienced with travel.
“Then Covid-19 hit and I thought this could happen again so I decided to try and get my foot in with a law firm. I had been studying since 2018.
“So, I began as a receptionist in a firm in Southport and I’m now a PA and I’m a few months – maybe four, from graduating.
“It’s a very different world, for sure.
“I have a good friend in the US who is a defense lawyer and he said, ‘Rachel, you’re going about this the wrong way. We work all our lives to be able to find time to play golf when we retire. You’re doing it the wrong way around’.”
Hetherington said she fractured her ankle in late 2009 and didn’t miss golf in the 13 weeks in rehab.
“I had a double fracture so there were screws and plates and things. Rehab was good, but I didn’t miss golf,” she said.
“I was wondering would I perform better when I got older.
“I was still enjoying golf, but not all the things that go with it – discipline, working out and things like that.
“I didn’t want to do it as much as I had, so I decided it might be time to retire.
“In 2010 I played a few events after I recovered but realised I was quite happy not playing. I was 38 then.
“The discipline goes. When you’re younger you’re willing to give it 110 per cent.
“I was lucky, I was so disciplined when I did play and had given it 110 per cent for a long time.
“I started playing when I was 14. But when you think about it, that’s a long time and a lot of travel. As you get into your 30s you start thinking ‘what else is there’?
“My nieces and nephews were all growing up and I always thought I’d come back to Australia and retire here.”
Hetherington plays about once a year in a mixed foursomes championship.
“I wasn’t practicing so my husband Greg and I agreed if I wasn’t practicing there wasn’t much point in playing.
“The opportunity came up to work full-time, so I was grateful for that opportunity. Plus, there is another 20 or so hours studying a week.
“Annie is only just starting to want to play. She goes and plays with the ladies at Sanctuary Cove, where we now live.
“She’s a junior member. Maybe every couple of weeks I might hit a couple of balls with her. Maybe 10 or so … and that’s enough.
“When I do hit the ball, I enjoy it. These days I’d only be a nine-hole golfer, to be honest.”
Rachel says she doesn’t really miss that much about the pro game.
“I maybe just miss being younger and being able to do what I want,” she laughed.
“Many times, you look back and realise how fortunate I was and many of the great people I have met – most of them volunteers, and I often think of the effort they made to be part of the LPGA. They’re probably the thing I think about most.
“You meet people who say they loved watching you play – or even hit balls.
“It makes you realise how much people received just out of being a small part of the LPGA. It’s actually quite humbling to remember the efforts people went to just to be part of the events.”
Is there any round or shot she’d love to have over?
“One thing I’d love to have done was jump into Poppys Pond at the Nabisco,” she said. “That would be one round I’d like over – just to have that opportunity to jump into that pond.
“I finished second so I guess I would love the chance to do that.”
By Michael Davis
GreenSpace is fast becoming a force of nature in the golf industry.
The company’s passion and enthusiasm is infectious.
GreenSpace are pushing hard for industry change, they are driving genuine community outcomes within the public access facility that they are now responsible for.
Their newest edition to the stable is one that has the GreenSpace team very excited….
‘The company has recently partnered with the City of Salisbury to make Adelaide’s stunning landmark par-3, Little Para, the fourth member of its rapidly growing stable. It already has successful partnerships to run Freeway Golf and Royal Park in Melbourne and Regency Park in Adelaide.
“The company was formed by experts in golf to provide market leading, innovative solutions that are benchmarked globally and community focused,” Vlahandreas explains.
He is particularly excited about being handed the reins to Little Para Golf Course which for decades has been a much-loved community asset for the City of Salisbury and beyond.
“Little Para is ready to embark on its next journey,” he says.
The philosophy driving the City of Salisbury’s decision to partner with GreenSpace was the council’s commitment to providing “a welcoming and livable city”.
“GreenSpace has partnered with the City of Salisbury to deliver an outstanding golfing experience, as well as a raft of non-golf community focused programs,” he says.
This includes the soon to be completed SHANX Mini Golf @ Little Para, an enhanced technology focused driving range and modern amenities designed to welcome all members of the community.
“We are thrilled to partner with the City of Salisbury and to deliver a long-term strategic plan for the facility that will engage our community through the creation of modern and entertainment focused golf experiences.”
He believes Little Para, just 30 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD, will be the blueprint for community focused, public access golf facilities throughout the country.
Salisbury mayor Gillian Aldridge, OAM, said the City of Salisbury was proud of the Little Para Golf Course as an outstanding community asset.
“It has always been a great place to learn the game or for the more experienced to hone their skills,” Aldridge said. “We’re excited about the possibilities that are created by our agreement with Greenspace Management and look forward to the future developments.
“The addition of SHANX and upgrades to the driving range will further improve a valuable community asset and we encourage golfers and non-golfers to keep an eye on Little Para as the changes roll out.”
Vlahandreas says Little Para is a community recreation facility with golfing amenities at its core.
“But it will be so much more in the next few years. It’s a facility that welcomes everyone to ‘turn up and hit a ball’. It’s a community asset that has a new lease on life, a renewed vision – a vision that has always probably been there but never allowed to flourish because the traditions of the game held it back from being who it needs to be for our game,” he says. “It’s a facility that is all about fun and playing your way.
“Our first few weeks (the company took over on July 1) behind the counter have reinforced our love of Little Para. The number of families, under 30s, women and girls already at Little Para is incredible. The foundations are there as they are at many public access facilities across the country. That’s why we love this course so much and that’s why we’re committed to making it the best facility it can be. That’s why we’ve partnered with the City of Salisbury and that’s why we’re committed to a long-term strategy at Little Para. It’s a genuine grassroots public access facility.”
Research by golf bodies reveals there is a significant demand for casual play. Younger golfers (under 40) and those new to golf golfers (women, men, and children) play more when you remove all the red tape (rules) associated with golf courses. But this in no way diminishes their respect for the golf course or their fellow golfers.
GreenSpace believes people are also looking for a no-frills approach to playing golf.
“People want to just play golf and that’s it,” Vlahandreas said. “They aren’t bothered with tradition, rules and competitions in public access golf. I have always said, ‘when a golf course knows who it is and what it wants to be’ [when it grows up], then it can set about being the best it possibly can be. Public access golf courses are not pseudo ‘private golf courses’, they are certainly not ‘championship’ golf and they are definitely not stuffy and unwelcoming.
“Public golf courses are just that, public access recreation. All are welcome. They are not reserved for member groups who dominate peak tee-times. They are not for a select few.
“They are public access sporting facilities for everyone in the community. With cultural change and committed partners in local councils, we are seeing more families, women and girls enjoying our facilities.”
Revolutionary changes GreenSpace has already made to the way in which the game is played at its four venues will raise eyebrows among the golf establishment.
They include the abolition of dress codes; playing in groups of up to six players as long as they keep up with the group in front; allowing music on course with Bluetooth speakers; sharing clubs; children can hire clubs for free; non-golfers and non-golf groups welcome to use the facilities; a friendly, welcoming environment for the community to learn the sport and get into the game; and the welcoming of dogs on course. Above all, the emphasis is on having fun.
These simple changes are genuinely making a contribution to the growing of the game of golf among everybody in the community.
Little Para also has genuine claims to being the best par3 course in Australia.
It is a top-notch layout of its type and features green grass tees, spectacular green complexes and bunkering.
The Little Para River runs throughout the property and is complemented by stunning River Red Gums.
The course meanders through the stunning landscape of the Little Para Linear Park in Paralowie.
Vlahandreas says: “There simply isn’t a golfing experience like it in Australia. Little Para is a must play for all golfers.”
He emphasises Little Para Golf Course is a public access facility and everybody is welcome seven days a week to the beautiful little course and its surrounds.
The nine-hole, configuration is designed to be fun and encourages a range of shot making from grass tees into large, target orientated greens. Little Para is perfect for beginners, social golfers and professionals alike.
All skill levels are welcome and the emphasis, no matter how good a player you are, is on having fun while you are out there.
There’s been a complete re-brand of the facility too… like all GreenSpace sites their branding and marketing in on-point and aimed to drive a new message to the market. They are doing some super-cool stuff in this space and the Little Para branding is no exception.
Cue the Pixel Duck. Originating from the local Blue-Billed Duck that calls the Little Para wetlands home, GreenSpace created a very cool logo and brand around the Little Para local.
Their merchandise is seriously cool too, and as you’d expect, not traditional at all with a range of Hoodies, T-Shirts and snap-back caps selling like hotcakes for them in-store and online.
On top of all of this, they have three PGA Professionals and a collection of Community Coaches driving game development programming for the facility throughout the course and driving range.
The significance of golf facilities like Little Para have never been more important for golf, and GreenSpace is the company bringing them back to the forefront of Golf Australia, Councils and State Governments to ensure their viability long-term for our communities. Bravo Peter V and the GreenSpace Team.
By Peter Owen
PETER Lewis has been a member, club captain, board member, volunteer and secretary of the Proserpine Golf Club, on the Whitsunday Coast in north Queensland, for more than 40 years.
Yet he reckons he learned more in a recent five-hour Golf Australia workshop than he had in all that time on the golf course and around the board table.
“I learned, for instance, how important it was to have a policy in place for child protection,” he said. “And I learned that a board needed to manage things – not do the work themselves.
“That’s a mistake I feel is often being made in big and small clubs around the country.”
Lewis took on the task of secretary of Proserpine after selling his family’s local weekly newspaper, the Proserpine Guardian, and retiring from a lifetime in country newspapers.
He and Warren Deighton, the president of Proserpine’s veteran golfers, made the six-hour round trip to Townsville to attend one of five workshops organised by Golf Australia to promote golf in some of Queensland’s more remote areas.
They were staged in Townsville, Cairns, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Toowoomba, through funding provided by the Queensland Government’s Sport and Recreation Active Industry Base Fund. The idea was to upskill clubs and deliver resources to assist remote golf clubs.
Lewis said Deighton was so excited about what he learned that the former Commonwealth Bank officer, who took early retirement, promised to run for the position of club treasurer at the next election.
The workshops included presentations by Golf Australia officers, Golf Industry Central’s Mike Orloff and CPR Group director Steve Connelly. CPR is Australia’s leading sports governance, planning and community development provider.
Lewis said he had been reminded of the need to account for every dollar spent by the club, the benefit of seeking alternate income streams like mini golf, of reflecting ‘happy faces’ in golf club promotional material, and of the importance of beautifying the course and developing scenic gardens.
“I remember doing a workshop with the Country Press Association when I was in the newspaper game, and they were emphatic that all business proprietors should walk across to the other side of the street and ask: ‘What would make me cross the street to buy something from that business?’
“I now ask: ‘What would make me return to this course for another game?” he said.
Proserpine already has significant runs on the board. The club has a membership of 430 and fields for the Saturday competition have increased from about 40, when Lewis first joined, to more than 100.
The club also hosts theme nights and dinners to commemorate things like St Patrick’s Day, while the pro shop boasts the only simulator in North Queensland.
The series of workshops attracted clubs of all different sizes, from 16 members to more than 1000. They were so well received that Golf Australia intends to repeat them in coming years.
By Rob Willis
YEAR one of the Women’s Golf Expo was a resounding success and it’s on again this October.
The only day of its kind in Australia just for women golfers will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on October 14.
At the high tee-style lunch there’ll be champagne, golf fashion parades and shopping as well as live golf tips from Expo host Anne Rollo and legendary female golf instructor Dennise Hutton.
It’s the perfect day out for the woman golfer and Rollo, a former Ladies European Tour winner who has continued to have a considerable involvement in a variety of golf related businesses, is calling all lady golfers to ‘come along’ for a fun golf themed day out, to shop golfing products not available in Australia and to enjoy the interactive displays, live golf tips and much more.
“Dennise and I are the ProGolfGals and we did a live lesson on the stage last year which was really popular,” Rollo said. “We got ladies up out of the audience to check their stance, set-up and posture. It was a lot of fun.
“We have exhibitors confirmed including Rain Girl Rain Gear, which isn’t available anywhere else in Australia, IceRays UV Sleeves, the Golf Travel Agency, Red Belly Active Golf Wear … and I’m still confirming plenty of others.
“Last year was a success, but the ticket sales have doubled already from year one and due to the success of last year’s Expo we’ve moved to the Hilton Hotel, a bigger venue,” she added.
Tickets, along with more information, is available from the www.fixmygolfswing.com.au website by going to the new women’s golf expo link, with ladies encouraged to grab their golfing friends for a special day at the Women’s Expo and High Tee Party.
With space for only 20 booths, limited space remains available for exhibitors looking to market their business or products to more than 150 women golfers.
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