By Brian O’Hare
OLDER golfers from across Australia will gather in the Adelaide hills in November for a national veteran golfers championship staged dangerously close to some significant wineries.
The event is the Australian Veteran Golfers Union (AVGU) National Championship, which is always a great week of competition and socialising that rotates annually around the states and territories.
Whilst some participants kept a wary eye for crocodiles during the championship last year in Darwin, Adelaide’s cellar doors might actually pose a more clear and present threat to many.
What will be the 27th running of the AVGU National Championship will take place from November 6th to 11th at three top golf courses in The Vines of Reynella, Flagstaff Hill and Blackwood.
The championship is open to male golfers aged 55 and over and their partners, with the SA event looking to be particularly couple friendly.
The tournament includes four rounds of golf for all participants with the men playing 54 holes of championship strokeplay in three grades and the women playing stableford events in two grades.
Whilst there’s keen interest for the low markers in fighting it out for the overall scratch title and the chance to become a national champion, handicapped grades keep golfers at all levels involved with lots of prizes and trophies on offer.
Tournament director Brian Nankivell and his organising committee from the South Australian Veteran Golfers Association are confident they will provide a great product.
“We’re playing at three very picturesque courses in the southern foothills of Adelaide about 20 kilometres south of the city and about 20 kilometres north of the McLaren Vale wine growing district,” Nankivell said.
“So it is wonderfully located, the courses are all in a radius of about 10 kilometres and there will be plenty of accommodation in the vicinity for all of those coming from interstate.”
“We’re reverting to the three grades and making sure the ladies are well accommodated as well.”
Nankivell said registrations were coming in at a steady pace, particularly from the more distant states in Queensland and Western Australia, and they were confident of attracting more than 350 participants overall.
“We certainly want to keep the grades at the different courses but having said that we will do everything we possibly can to ensure that people traveling together, whether thy be groups of men or partners, that they are not inconvenienced in terms of which course they are playing at,” he said.
“We are going to try and get that together as much as we can, and most people are alerting us on their entry forms to those requirements, sharing carts etc, and we will certainly be making every effort to do that.”
The organising committee was also “excited” by the co-operation being shown by the three courses involved, and arrangements were being made to ensure issues such as catering, course management and access to carts would be optimal.
“November usually is perfect weather down here, in the mid 20’s,” Nankivell said.
“We are looking forward to not only good weather, but good courses, and a great environment. We’d be very disappointed if people didn’t come and thoroughly enjoy the whole package.”
With the help of sponsorship, the cost of the week is kept as low as possible.
For the full week, which includes registration and welcome BBQ and drink on the Sunday, 4BBB on the Monday, three rounds of championship golf (with a rest day on Wednesday) and a Gala Presentation Dinner at Morphettville Racecourse on the Friday evening, the cost is just $325.
Apart from the wineries there are plenty of other tourist attractions in Adelaide and beyond and plenty of varied accommodation including boutique hotels, apartments, seaside resorts, heritage cottages, hostels and caravan parks.
As for the overall AVGU National Championship title in 2016, there is a looming matchup between defending champion Tom Harold, who had an obvious home town advantage when he won last year on debut at his home Darwin Golf Club course, and former three time winner from Ballarat, John Ciezki.
Ciezki first competed in the championship in 2012, winning the Mornington Peninsula edition before making it three in a row in Canberra (2013) and Western Australia (2014).
Ciezki couldn’t make the Northern Territory event in 2015 but was determined to recontest in Adelaide.
Harold, now a regular at Australian senior order of merit amateur events, was delighted by the challenge.
“You bet!” he said of defending his title at the time. “I can’t wait. Come on John, bring it on!”
And that’s the thing about the AVGU National Championship. For many it has become an annual pilgrimage and if you stick with the program, sooner or later you have visited every state and territory in what is a very large country.
Along the way you’ve played some top golf courses, made strong friendships, forged rivalries – and had some great fun in the process.
Further Information and Registration Details
For more information and registration, which is scheduled to close at the end of May, click here