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Unique, yet effective, Scheffler with a swing that works 

Unique, yet effective, Scheffler with a swing that works 

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694632

IT’S a distinctive golf swing, one which challenges much of what has long been written in coaching manuals. 

World number one Scott Scheffler makes an unconventional slash at the ball, a swing characterised by his feet slipping, sliding and moving around as the club comes into impact. 

However, despite how it looks, there is no question Scheffler’s swing is not only efficient, statistically speaking, it is the most effective in all of world golf. 

In 2023 he led the PGA TOUR in greens hit and was 12th in proximity to the hole, and nothing has changed in the early part of 2024, where after his first five events the tall Texas native is again leading the greens in regulation stats category at an incredible average of over 85 per cent, and with more greens hit this year leading to even more birdies, Scheffler is averaging in excess of six per round.    

Further emphasising his ability tee to green, despite finishing fourth on the final FedEx Cup points list in 2023, Scheffler’s ranked as the 110th best putter on the PGA Tour. At his most recent outing at the Genesis Invitational played at Riviera in LA, he was last in putting for those making the 36-hole cut, yet still finished the week in a tie for 10th. 

Running an educated eye over the Scheffler swing, Sydney-based teaching professional Glenn Whittle is in awe of the world number one’s ball striking prowess. 

Scott Scheffler, currently the premier ball striker in world golf.

“He is an amazing ball striker,” Whittle expressed. “His greens in reg and proximity to the hole with his irons, is incredible. 

“Everybody, me included, is fascinated by the fact that his feet lift off the ground and change position during his swing, 

“One interesting technical point though if you watch his swing from down the line in super slow motion, yes his right foot is off the ground pre-impact which is common for a lot of good ball strikers, especially in the modern era when players are trying to drive the ball the predominant distances they do, but, if you look closely you’ll notice that his left foot doesn’t come off the ground until after impact, which is significant.”

Leading teaching professional Gary Barter, who co-hosts the Back Spin Golf podcast with Inside Golf’s Larry Canning and coaches the LIV Tour’s Matt Jones, US PGA Tour player Nick Hardy, along with a long list of emerging professionals and elite amateurs, was another to have high praise for Scheffler’s ability to make his unusual swing technique work as well as it does.  

“We’re all fascinated with his golf swing, because to the naked eye there are arms and legs and feet going everywhere,” Barter began. 

“The artistic part of the game is always battling the science and so-called getting positions right. But it does prove in 2024 that unencumbered, no brakes on, get up there and swing and hit, still works. 

“Randy Smith, who is Scottie’s instructor, he’s had Scott since he was a young kid.
He’s been asked many times about his feet moving all over the place, and Randy’s comment has been ‘he’s always done that and its not something I want to change’. 

“That foot slide we saw Norman have, we saw Calcavecchia have it, and now that’s become a common sight again watching Scottie play golf.” 

However as physically gifted as he might be, Barter believes Scheffler’s mind is perhaps his biggest strength.   

“He’s literally playing the game where nothing is interfering with anything. He’s playing with no brakes on, he’s not trying to force anything, or hold anything. 

“When you still frame all the golden parts of the swing on a camera, all the spots that are important, he hits them all. And then you’ve got the mind to be able to do it. He’s clearly in a mindset where he’s not too worried about it,” Barter added. 

In the weeks ahead Scheffler will aim to add to his six PGA Tour titles, he’ll look to defend his PLAYERS Championship at Sawgrass, before trying to add a second green jacket when he contests the Masters in early April. 

With a unique swing guiding his ball into the majority of fairways and onto more than four out of every five greens, whether or not his putter cooperates, he’s a hard one to bet against. 

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Kiwi rookie Kobori a three-time champ 

Kiwi rookie Kobori a three-time champ 

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694633

By Michael Davis

IN elite sport, they say the second victory is almost as tough as breaking through for your maiden win.

In golf, it sometimes takes years. Indeed, some players never win another event.

Which makes the successive triumphs on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia by 22-year-old Japanese-born New Zealander, Kazuma Kobori, before a third just a few weeks later at Castle Hill in Sydney’s northwest, extremely special. 

Two in row was a feat that had not been achieved since Adam Scott did it more than 10 years ago, three on the trot has historians reaching for the record books. 

His third victory in his 10th start also means Kobori has the same win record as Tiger Woods at the same stage of their respective professional careers.

“Sounds good,” he said of hearing the statistic. “Probably need to get a few more wins under my belt, to be in the same conversation as that man, but it feels like I am on the right track.”

SMILING: After three wins in his first 10 starts as a pro, Kazuma Kobori has every reason to be pleased with himself.

As for comparisons to Scott, the winner of the 2013 Masters at Augusta, and we’re not saying Kobori will one day don the green Masters jacket, but his second win did come at the superbly manicured, Rosebud Country Club, often referred to as ‘the Augusta of the Mornington Peninsula’. Yes, we agree it is a long bow but….

The young Kiwi, who comes from Rangiora in Canterbury, jumped to second on the tour’s order of merit at Rosebud and maintained that standing after his victory at Castle Hill, almost assuring Kobori of earning a DP World Tour card for next season with only two events remaining on the PGA Tour of Australasia. The top three at the end of the season win 2025 playing cards in what used to be known as the European Tour.

Kobori finished at 18-under par at Rosebud to win by one shot from Malaysian women’s golfer, Ashley Lau. Veteran Mathew Goggin finished third. 

“They always say the first win’s hard, and I’ll tell you what, I can speak about it now that the second one’s just as hard. But I’m glad to get the job done,” Kobori said after the win at Rosebud.

It was Goggin who presented the biggest challenge for the Kiwi for most of the final day, playing in the same group.

Ultimately, the New Zealander led by a shot from Goggin when they reached the 18th tee, a shortish par four. Goggin hit a nice approach to 25 feet, pin high. Once Kabori dumped his second shot into the right greenside trap, it was game on.

It came down to Kobori’s par putt, which was for the outright win. It rolled in dead centre. 

“I was very nervous as you probably saw,” Kobori said. 

“A few tips that my coach gave me just came back to me. I just took my time, and then the putt wasn’t difficult. It was dead straight. I had it there, and I knew it was going to drop.

At Castle Hill, opening rounds of 65-64 put him well and truly in the mix, before a 69 on Saturday and a 6-under par 66 in Sunday’s final round, for a 24-under par total, beat Jenny Shin by one, with the experienced Brendan Jones third. 

It capped off a remarkable few weeks and an amazing past 12 months, with Kobori winning the Australian Amateur, the World Amateur representing New Zealand, the Australian tour school, and now three tournaments as a pro.

He only joined the pay for play ranks in November last year, with each of the three wins netting him $45,000. His maiden win came at the Webex Players’ Series Murray River at Cobram Barooga.

Emigrating from Japan to New Zealand as an infant, he followed his elder sister, Momoka, into professional golf.  Fittingly she was at Rosebud to greet him with a hug soon after the last putt dropped.

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Coletta caps off comeback with Vic Open win

Coletta caps off comeback with Vic Open win

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694634

IT’S fair to say the one-time outstanding junior golfer, Brett Coletta, came home from the US a few years ago with his tail between his legs.

He was a golfer without portfolio and literally had nowhere to tee it up.

Playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, he had missed gaining a card on the PGA Tour by a whisker, only to be forced out of qualifying for the big dance by Covid.

“I got Covid during qualifying school when it was really ramping up so I had to pull out. I didn’t have a category. So, I literally didn’t have anywhere to play.”

Coletta was reflecting on his roller-coaster ride in the game not long after his imperious final round 65 vaulted him to the top of the leader board and victory in the Vic Open at 13th Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula.

COMEBACK COMPLETE: Following his win in the Vic Open, Brett Coletta is now in the box seat to claim one of three DP World Tour cards. 

“It was pretty rough coming home from the States after getting so close. I re-evaluated my team and just started from square one again. I was lucky enough back in Australia for a few guys like Geoff Ogilvy to give me a few starts. If I go back to that time, it is a really big jump to where I am now.

“I look back on the hard times and see it as experience rather than having any negatives towards it. I see it as, ‘yeah I played well in the States and got close, but at the end of the day it wasn’t for me’.’’

Currently third with two events remaining, the win has put Coletta in a great spot to finish top three on the local order of merit and win a card on the DP World Tour for 2024-25. 

“I’m trying not to hyper-fixate on it too much,” he said.

If he can finish first, he also gets his first-ever major championship start at the Open Championship this July at Royal Troon.

“I feel like I’m a different person (from when he had nowhere to play), for sure,” he said.

“I’m 27 now. I was only 23 at the time (when he played so well on the KFT). Definitely some sort of maturing goes on and Covid exacerbates that as well. I was stuck over there, I couldn’t get back, it was just a brutal time.”


IN THE WOMEN’S VIC OPEN, Malaysia’s Ashley Lau added a huge win to her already impressive Australian summer at the 2024 Vic Open, preventing former world No.1 Jiyai Shin from becoming the first woman to successfully defend the title. 

In tremendous form after a second and an eighth in the previous two Webex Players Series events, Lau claimed victory when she produced the low final round of 66 which included seven birdies.

“I came down here just to prepare for the upcoming Epson Tour. This is a big confidence boost. Australia holds such a special place in my heart,” she said with two arms around the Vic Open trophy. 

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Steven Alker – a Kiwi star on the PGA Tour Champions 

Steven Alker – a Kiwi star on the PGA Tour Champions 

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694611

STEVEN Alker joined the PGA Tour Champions two and half years ago following a modest PGA Tour career. And he’s been on a roll ever since. The 52-year-old Kiwi now has eight PGA Tour Champions titles (as of press time), performed strongly in the inaugural World Champions Cup in December against major stars like Bernhard Langer and Steve Stricker, then won the 2024 season opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Alker sat down with IG shortly before his Mitsubishi win in Hawaii.

You won twice in 2023, what are your goals for this season?

Yeah, I think it’s just a matter of staying hungry and trying to chase those victories. Sometimes you just don’t know when they’re going to come. You feel like your game’s coming around and you’re in a really good place like I was a few times in 2023 and you don’t get wins. I got a lot of second place finishes last season. I think you’ve just got to stay patient, you’ve got to keep plodding away, and just keep focusing on putting yourself in a position to win, and if you do that enough times I feel like the wins are going to come. 

I’ve just got to keep working on the things that are going well for me, on and off the golf course as far as golf and fitness and I think the small improvements and small gains here and there-that’s what I like. The small things makes a big difference in the end. Certain times of the year, like at major championships, those small things will come into play and work themselves out.

How do you improve in those small areas?

When I go back to 2022, looking at my stats…everything is top 5. That was a really good year and I look at it as a benchmark (4 wins).  Hopefully I can get above that benchmark. In 2023, my wedge game wasn’t quite as good-but my length had come in handy. With length, it’s all about maintaining. A mile an hour here and there. The key is that right now I know I’m long enough to compete out here. As I get older if I can maintain that distance, that’s what’s important.

Speaking of maintaining, Bernhard Langer has done a great job of it. What have you learned from him?

Whenever we’re playing together it’s hard not to watch Bernhard play. Sometimes I’ll catch myself watching him too closely and then I go ‘come on’, we’ve got to focus on our own game now.’ If he’s not playing well, he puts the time in. Even when he’s playing well, he’s still working on his putting and short game all the time. And he’s always working on his fitness.

He was there at the end to congratulate me when I won the Schwab Cup in 2022. Ernie was there as well. These guys are Hall of Famers. It’s not until after you have a great year that you sit down and realise how good it was, and have those guys congratulate you that you realise it was extra special.

Steven Alker, a winner on the PGA Tour Champions at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii.

You were the leading point-earner for Team International at the inaugural World Champions Cup in December. What was that experience like for you?  

Everyone on the team made my wife and I feel welcome and encouraged us. It’s nerve wracking in those team events. To have that first tee memories with the guys and leading the team out, that’s what was extra special for me. Ernie told me on Saturday night “I’m sending you out first in Sunday singles, let’s put some points up on the board early.” I thought, ok, I better get it done.

You then took down the PGA Tour Champions player of the year Steve Stricker

It did feel good. You want to win your sessions. To beat Stricker was great. To have a team event be so close and to have it come down to the last hole was amazing. To put points on the board first and let the guys behind me see that, was a heck of a lot of fun.

You were a journeyman for decades, now you’re winning at a high rate against major champions, what do you chalk up your success to?

You can’t zero it down to one thing. A major contributing factor was I’ve kept my game in shape and I kept playing, and my body was in good shape. And I think the biggest thing was being inspired and wanting to play on the PGA Tour Champions and having a second chance. It’s a chance to do it properly, try and make something of this career. As long as I grinded on the Korn Ferry and only played three years on the PGA Tour, and played the European tour-all of that grinding that got me to this position, I just thought ‘well come on, this is another chance.’ I really, really wanted to come out and do well and compete with these Champions Tour guys. 

Alker has taken his game to a new level since joining the over-50’s tour. 

Has there been a moment of validation out here for you amongst the superstars like Fred Couples?

I think ultimately it was that first win. When I first came out I Monday-qualified. I kept top ‘ten-ing’, and just kept playing my way in. That first win at TimberTech proved to me that maybe I belong out here. It sounds cocky and I don’t like to sound that way. Then I got 2nd to Mickelson in the Schwab Cup Championship and that just kind of fueled 2022 (4 wins). You never know what you’re going to come out with in that first full year. I started in Hawaii on a course I hadn’t seen. To come out and lose in a playoff to Miguel Angel Jimenez told me I felt validated and that I got a comfort factor, hopefully earned respect and then it snowballed that year.

A year ago, you lost your caddie Sam Workman to cancer, what did he mean?

We built this relationship going from the bottom of the bottom. From struggling on the Korn Ferry, missing cuts to getting on the Champions Tour and winning majors.
Then winning the Schwab Cup. We went from lows to highs. It was special times for both of us. His passing was so sudden. We got to know his family and still stay in touch. That was a tough couple of months. He was a great man.

Your son Ben caddied last year for one week at the Insperity Invitational and you won. How did that feel? 

I don’t even know how that came together (laughs). I think my wife Tanya put us together that week. I always thought it would be nice for my son to caddie for me in an event and I think he had an off week from school. I just thought, ‘well why not? Let’s give it a shot.’ Ben had no golf experience at all, but he had a great attitude. I just taught him the simple stuff like just getting a yardage book and he kept up. I chose the clubs and it was just a great experience. It was an amazing father/son time. We had so many friends out there and winning that championship having my son on the bag, you can’t really ask much more than that, it was extra special.


Alker opens 2024 with a win in Hawaii

Following his interview with Inside Golf’s Garrett Johnston, Steven Alker continued on his winning ways with a victory at the PGA Tour’s season opening event in Hawaii. 

Alker totaled a tournament-record equaling 25-under par, a score which included a last day 63 a round in which the Kiwi hit all 18 greens in regulation.

It was his eighth PGA Tour Champions victory. 

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Backspin Golf Podcast Episode 46

Backspin Golf Podcast Episode 46

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31696641

Who knows Marc Leishman better than his long-time coach Dennis McDade? The boys chat with Dennis and about all things from LIV Golf to Leish’s own brand of beer Leishman Lager.

Larry and Gary share their take on everything around the world of golf and Gary offers up a tip on… actually I’ve totally forgotten what they boys told me?

All this and more on this episode Of “Backspin”

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Perske overcomes pain to rebuild his golf career

Perske overcomes pain to rebuild his golf career

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694612

By Peter Owen

WHEN the pain was at its worst Wayne Perske feared he would never walk again. Playing golf, said his doctor, was simply out of the question.

That was two years ago, after his fourth spinal fusion operation to correct a curvature of the spine that had plagued him since birth.

But Perske, a popular professional who played for years on the Japan Tour and won the 2006 Token Homemate Cup, is made of tough stuff.

Confined to bed and in great pain, he could nevertheless feel some strength returning. One day, he risked getting up and found he could take a step or two.

The next day he walked a little further. “My first goal was to walk to the letterbox, then to the lamp post. After a couple of weeks I was able to walk a kilometre and it was time to go back to work.”

Perske was born with scoliosis, a condition in which a person’s spine has an abnormal curve, which can worsen with age, impact a person’s life, and be considered a disability.

Listening to Perske describe his ailment, and the steps doctors have taken to correct it, is a confronting experience.

“Bulging discs, ruptured discs, bone-on-bone, bits of disc floating in the spinal column, nitrogen bubbles – it got to the point where I would twist and I could hear it,” Perske said.

“Then I started to have a drop-foot. I was falling over because I couldn’t lift my leg properly. They had to relieve the nerve pain by doing a fusion, but where they fused wasn’t actually where the pain was coming from. 

“They had to go in again, but from the front because it was quite low. They cut me from the belly button down to my groin. They take your guts out, slap it on a thing beside you and they drill into your spine from the front.

“When I came out of that surgery, not only did I have to recover from the trauma of surgery from the front, but the back pain was worse.”

Wayne Perske the All Abilities winner at the Webex Players Series Murray River at Cobram Barooga Golf Club.

Perske went under the knife for a third time to have four rails inserted that stretch from the base of his spine to halfway up his back, held together by eight screws.

While the multiple surgeries were taking place, Perske continued to work, He was appointed head professional and manager of the new Maleny Golf Club in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, north of Brisbane.

Then he got a job as a coach at the Sunshine Coast Golf Centre, and later as head professional and manager at the Hendra centre of Golf 24, an indoor golf simulation facility with Trackman technology and on-site professional coaching.

Though he was coaching, Perske wasn’t playing golf – certainly to nothing like the standard he once reached. And he missed it.

“I started hitting a few balls and found I was actually enjoying it,” he said. “I watched what players like Lachie Wood were doing in All Abilities golf and I wondered whether that was something I could work towards.”

He contacted Golf Australia, and went through an extensive physical assessment with National Eligibility Assessor Sam Taylor. “It was tough,” Perske said. “There were moments when I didn’t think I was going to qualify.”

In the end, he satisfied the impairment criteria set by the International Golf Federation, and lined up in mid-January for his first All Abilities tournament at the Webex Players Series Murray River hosted by Cobram Barooga Golf Club.

He shot rounds of 80 and 71 to score a seven-stroke victory over Cameron Pollard, and followed that up with runner-up finishes (both times to Pollard) at Rosebud and in the Victoria Open at 13th Beach.

He says he thought he would have done better given his history, but accepts that he can no longer play to that standard, and realises he needs to adapt his game to suit his physical limitations.

“The timing is still there but I need to work on my short game,” he said. 

Perske’s goal is to play in the big events in Europe and the United States, and knows he has to accumulate enough points to be ranked amongst the world’s top handful of All Abilities golfers.

“After my first two events I was ranked 77th in the world, so now I have a better idea of what I have to do,” he said. “I have to improve and I have to play a lot.”

The rails and screws that hold Perske’s back together.

He said he was tired and sore after each event, his backswing became shorter and he needed additional pain medication, but he acknowledged that it was the same for the other players.

Perske is full of praise for his fellow competitors in All Abilities golf. “They’re great golfers and I enjoy the camaraderie,” he said. “Cameron Pollard is an outstanding player. In the final round of the Victoria Open he drove the ball as well as anyone I’ve ever seen.

“And you’re genuinely happy when an opponent gets a birdie – that doesn’t happen on the main tour. We’ve formed a Facebook group and we share tips about travelling and saving money,” he said.

Perske said he’s luckier than some of the other players because he has sponsorship support from several businesses, including the Wellness Group and CRE Insurance. And because the All Abilities events are played only at weekends, he’s able to work fulltime.

He has signed on as the touring professional at the Gunabul Homestead, near Gympie, which caters specifically for All Abilities golfers.

Accompanying Perske on his return to tournament golf was his wife Vanessa, who juggled duties as both his caddie and carer. “He’s got this little burning passion deep down,” Vanessa said. “It’s nice for him to have that spark back. He’s got that little twinkle in his eye again. It’s fun.”

NOTE: The historic Gunabal Homestead, Gympie, offering accommodation and an 18-hole par 3 course great for experienced and beginning golfers and for all abilities and Wellness Australia Group, a disability services and support organisation in Woolloongabba, Queensland, are both supporters and sponsors of Wayne Perske. 

For more on both organisations, see page 20 and 22 of March edition of Inside Golf.

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The older they get, the better they play

The older they get, the better they play

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694613

Peter Senior, 65, shoots 63 at Sanctuary Cove Palms. Is he getting better with age?

By Peter Owen

THEY say golfers begin to lose their ability once they reach the age of 50. Try telling that to Peter Senior, one of the few golfers to have won professional events on the men’s tour in five separate decades.

Senior, who is still contending most weeks on the Legends Tour, is the only man to have won Australia’s big three summer tournaments – the Australian Open, the Australian PGA and the Australian Masters – after turning 50.

And he’s still creating records.

Senior, who will turn 65 in late July, shot seven-under 63 on the Palms course at Sanctuary Cove in a members’ competition in January, including a back nine of six-under 30.

It was the first time he’d broken his age – returned a score less than the number of years he’s lived.

Playing off a handicap of plus 3, Senior’s score equated to 40 stableford points – good enough for second place in the A grade competition.

His remarkable round came just a month after another Queensland marvel, Terry Price, shot a phenomenal 61 at Headland, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Not to be outdone, Terry Price shoots 61 at Headland.

Playing in the season-ending Legends Tour Championship, Price’s score was eight under par and was the first time the 62-year-old had broken his age. 

Rounds like those recorded by Senior and Price are rare at any time – but especially so for golfers aged over 60.

They draw comparisons with Joe Kirkwood, the legendary Australian pro who was our first international superstar and famously shot 10-under 60 at the age of 62, and Fred Couples, who stunned the world in 2022 when he had a round of 60 at the age of 63.

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Stolz back to the game she loves

Stolz back to the game she loves

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694614

MEETING and hatching a plan to one day beat a No. 1 in the world was probably the last thing on Cathy Stolz’s mind when she made a comeback to golf.

After more than 20 years on the sidelines and raising a family, Stolz has found her way back to the game she has always loved.

And no-one is more surprised than her.

After returning to full-time work, Stolz found herself working in the golf shop at Shelly Beach Golf Club on the NSW Central Coast.

Simply put, Stolz met some great people and decided she wanted to play some golf with them. The former touring pro applied to get her amateur status back in 2017 just so she should go on some golf trips with those friends.

Now she suddenly finds herself battling with some of the best senior amateur women players in this country – led by an old sparring partner, Nadine Gole, now the No. 1 ranked senior women’s amateur in the world.

Yet Stolz, who is a few years younger, has her in her sights.

“Well, I would like to beat her,” Stolz told Inside Golf. “That’s definitely one of my goals for the year.

“Other than that, I’d really like to make the Asia-Pacific team, which is chosen later in the year.”

Cathy Stolz has made a successful return to golf while finding a happy home at Shelley Beach.

Always a reliable driver and a good putter, Stolz jokes that her short game still ‘sucks’.

“Maybe I should have gone to one of Nadine’s golf schools and learned how to chip,” she jokes.

Stolz gave up the game when she had a family and admits coming back to the game was never really on the agenda . . . until it happened.

Now her stellar play has earned her a start – as an amateur – in the Women’s NSW Open at nearby Magenta Shores later this month.

“I know how hard it can be at Magenta and how tough they can set it up,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Ironically Stolz won the NSW Women’s Amateur in 1991 when she was Cathy Neilson.

“Certainly, the game has changed a lot. The players nowadays have all got better – especially in women’s golf,” she says.

“They’re better than we were when we were kids.

“When we were kids we thought we were pretty good. But these youngsters today . . . gee, they’re just exceptional.”

She’s also in awe of Gole’s extraordinary talent in her senior years.

“I played with Nadine in South Australia and we were neck and neck with five holes to go but she just played that bit better than me,” said Stolz.

“Then we played in Victoria [senior amateur championships] and she just didn’t make a mistake, she putted great and just didn’t do anything wrong.

“I played all three days with Nadine around three courses that I hadn’t played before but the second day at The Beach course at 13th Beach it was blowing a gale and she shot even-par. It was just a remarkable round in those conditions.

“She is about five years older than me, so there is that. Maybe at least she’ll probably retire before me.”

Stolz tries to play two to three times a week these days but seldom hits ball at the range.

“My long game is fine, it’s my short game that needs improving,” she said.

And being one that came through an exciting era of women’s professional golf, does she stay connected with the old brigade?

“Not that much. I do stay in touch with Karrie Webb, Jane Bell and Tanya Holl and a few that I played with,” she said.

And her favourite courses?

“Probably Kingston Heath and The Australian,” she said.

“But Shelly Beach is right up there as well because it’s a great place to hang around and a great club to be part of.

“Coming home to Shelly it’s just amazing how beautiful it is and what great condition it’s always in.

“I’m pretty lucky to have it virtually at my door.”

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CELEBRITY SWINGER: Golf’s important to this referee turned politician

CELEBRITY SWINGER: Golf’s important to this referee turned politician

24/03/2024, Australia, Golf, Golf Australia, Article # 31694591

After a career as a rugby league referee, one which saw him officiate at the highest levels, Tim Mander turned his attention to serving the community, where he is currently the Member for Everton in the Queensland State parliament. Inside golf’s Peter Owen profiles a man who since introduced to the game as a 12-year-old, has always maintained a love of golf. 

Tim Mander the politician.

THE elderly man walking along South Pine Road, in the north Brisbane suburb of Everton Park, stopped in his tracks when he spotted Tim Mander. He stared for a moment, smiled and said: “I know your face. Aren’t you that rugby league referee?”

Mander chuckles. “You’d think some of them, at least, would recognise me as Tim Mander, their local member, wouldn’t you? I’ve represented this seat in parliament for the past 11 years.”

It’s an Australian trait, however, that a person’s achievements on the sporting field transcend all others, and those who achieve sporting greatness live long in the collective memory.

And Mander’s career as a referee is worth remembering.

He was the whistle-blower in 292 NRL games between 1992 and 2005, 18 NRL finals including the 2004 and 2005 Grand Finals, four Test matches, four World Cup matches, and he was the video ref for another 187 NRL games. In 2005, Mander was named International Referee of the Year.

In that same year he was also recognised as Queensland Father of the Year, an honour that the dad-of-four treasures as much as any of the sporting accolades he’s earned. 

Mander’s career as a referee began when he was 15, but his involvement with golf began much earlier. The first dollar he ever earned was caddying at nearby Keperra golf course as a 12-year-old in 1973.

“Actually the specified fee was 95 cents, but nearly everybody rounded it up to a dollar,” Mander recalls.

Young Tim invested 40 cents of his earnings in a lesson with club pro Doug Katterns, and became hooked on a game he’s still playing a half century later.

He joined Keperra as a junior member, then had stints at Ashgrove and Wantima before rejoining Keperra. “We’d also head down to Victoria Park on a Saturday morning and line up to get a game there,” he said.

Though he enjoyed golf as a kid, his first sporting love was always rugby league, which he played at junior level until he was 17. 

Tim Mander the golfer.

“But, from a young age, I’d always wanted to be a referee,” he said. “I’ve always been an organised person with a strong sense of fair play and a passion to see that things are done properly.”

He was only 15 when he refereed his first game and, after working his way through junior leagues and officiating in the Brisbane competition for 10 years, Mander was appointed to handle his first NRL game – Newcastle against Wally Lewis’ Gold Coast Seagulls at Marathon Stadium – in April, 1992.

That was the beginning of a career that would see him control 292 NRL matches – fifth on the all-time list of NRL referee appearances – and take him to New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Europe.

After three years and nearly 60 matches, he found himself immersed in the Super League war. He sided with the breakaway Super League, signed a contract with them, and was promptly sacked by the Australian Rugby League.

Banned from officiating at matches in Australia, Mander – now a full-time professional for the first time – spent 1996 refereeing small-time fixtures in New Zealand, New Guinea and Britain, where Super League was already well established. 

In 1997 he refereed a full season of Super League fixtures in Australia, before the warring parties got together and the National Rugby League was formed in time for the 1998 season.

Mander was appointed to his first Test match – New Zealand versus France in Wellington – in 1999. Later that year he officiated at his first NRL finals match – Cronulla beating Brisbane 42-20 at Shark Park.

After handling the 2004 and 2005 Grand Finals and being named the 2005 International Referee of the Year, Mander stunned the rugby league world by retiring.

“When I was 16 or 17 my ambition was to be the best referee in the world,” he said. “So it was a great thrill to be recognised as the International Referee of the Year.

“But I’d been thinking for some time that it was time for me to try something else. In 2005 the time seemed right.”

Mander, who has a strong Christian faith and holds a Bachelor of Ministries degree, went back to his old job at Scripture Union Queensland, an organisation that provides school chaplaincy services, youth camps and training programs in youth work.

As CEO, Mander liaised with the State Government and became aware of what he described as ‘wasted money, wasted opportunities’ and ‘chronic procrastination’. Expressing his frustration to former NRL first grade referee Ben Cummins one day his friend told him: “Why don’t you have a crack at politics? You’d be a natural.”

Mander was interested. “I was passionate about trying to make a difference and thought I had the advocacy skills to suit politics,” he said.

And ahead of the 2004 NRL Grand Final.

He’d always been a Conservative voter so contacted the Queensland Liberal National Party and asked them how he could join. Three years later he became the Member for Everton in the landslide election of 2012 that saw Campbell Newman sweep to power.

Mander was initially appointed Assistant Minister for Sport and Racing and was later promoted to Minister of Housing and Public Works. After the LNP lost the 2017 state election, Mander was elected deputy leader, a role he filled for three years.

Though he says he no longer has any leadership ambitions, he’s currently Shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works, Sport and Racing, and for Olympic and Paralympic Sport and Regional Engagement.

It’s a challenging workload, but Mander still finds time for golf two or three times a fortnight, plays off a handicap of about 12, and usually fits in a brief golfing holiday each year with three or four mates he’s known since school.

His golfing highlights include attending the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes and the 2011 US Open at Congressional Country Club in Maryland. And, during a UK holiday in 2019 he survived the ballot and played a round at St Andrews on a beautiful summer morning that delivered him two birdies. 

He says golf is the ultimate competitive game, where you compete not just against your playing partners and the course, but against yourself.

“It’s easy to gauge your progress, it rewards hard work and persistence, and can be satisfying and frustrating in equal measure,” he said. “It also develops friendships that can last a lifetime.”

The post CELEBRITY SWINGER: Golf’s important to this referee turned politician first appeared on Inside Golf. Australia's Most-Read Golf Magazine as named by Australian Golfers - FREE.



https://www.insidegolf.com.au/people/celebrity-swinger-golfs-important-to-this-referee-turned-politician/
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