DENIS DALE lays out the fantastic opportunities available in 2017 for senior amateur golfers in Australia. What’s on, when, where, and how you can get involved, even if you are not a low marker.
2017 ANOTHER GREAT YEAR FOR AUSTRALIA’S SENIOR GOLFERS
By Denis Dale
2016 was a great golfing year but the more exciting news is the fantastic calendar of events and courses available for Australia’s senior amateur golfers in 2017. Many of Australia’s Top 100 courses are included providing Australian senior golfers with the enviable task of choosing just which great course and event they will play.
The Australian Senior Ranking Competition
Now entering its twelfth year the Australian Senior Ranking competition provides top-level golf for seniors who are ready to travel across the country to compete at the highest level. Beginning in 2006 when it was called the Australian Senior Order of Merit the Ranking System in 2017 will include 17 events across every state and territory.
Who can play in National Ranking Events?
You need to be 55 years or older on the first day of the event being played. While some of the events have handicap restrictions there are others without any handicap limit. All entry forms contain this information.
The Australian Senior Amateur, the Royal Melbourne Classic, the National Masters and the NSW Senior Classic are very popular and a handicap ballot may be required. The best policy is to enter and wait to see if a ballot is needed.
Entry in the Australian Senior Matchplay Championship is open to any senior golfer who has played at least one ranking event during the preceding 12 months.
How does the Ranking Points System work?
The Golf Australia web site has full details on the Senior Ranking System. While each senior ranking event stands alone with prizes awarded in both scratch, age and handicap divisions ranking points are awarded to all players at the conclusion of the tournament.
The number of competitors from inside the Top 20 on the Senior Ranking Table is used to calculate a tournament rating. A higher rating event means a higher number of points. The highest rated event is the Australian Senior Amateur with an automatic Level 6 rating with other events achieving a level 2, 3, 4 or 5.
A table of ranking positions and points is available on the AUSOOM website (www.ausoom.com).
When are the Ranking Points used?
At different times during the year various national senior teams are selected using the Golf Australia Rolling 12 Months points table as a basis for this selection.
At the end of each ranking year Golf Australia medals are awarded to those seniors in the top three positions in the overall scratch, the over 65 section and in the handicap competition
Using a rolling 12-month table ensures selection is based on performance over the previous year. As events are played the old event drops off e.g. points gained in the 2016 Australian Senior Amateur Championship will remain current until replaced when the 2017 Australian Senior Amateur Championship is played.
A 12-man Golf Australia Senior team will be selected for a match against the Australian Defence Forces Golf Association in March. Selection in the team is based on current rankings although any senior who represented in the previous Sanctuary Cove or Asia Pacific teams is ineligible. This policy ensures at least 24 seniors are rewarded with major team selection each year.
A 12-man Australian Senior team will be selected to play New Zealand in July 2017 for the Sanctuary Cove Trophy. The match will be played at Sanctuary Cove Golf Club.
A six-man team to represent Australia in the 2017 Asia Pacific Championships will be selected after the 2017 Victorian Senior Amateur Championship in September.
How do I enter a National Ranking event?
Entry forms are always available on the AUSOOM website (www.ausoom.com) and can also be found on Golf Australia and various state golf organisation’s web sites.
Although many of Australia’s best senior golfers will be competing you do not have to be a low marker to play and enjoy the competition and the friendships that will soon be made. If you have thought about playing in one or more of these senior events then why not make 2017 the year to put the plan into action.
What events are on in 2017?
The National Ranking year runs from November to October meaning the first two events for the 2017 year have already been played.
The 2017 ACT Senior Championship was played in November on three courses – Queanbeyan, Gungahlin Lakes and Federal (87 in Australia)..
In a close finish Newcastle senior Russell Bunn recorded his first senior ranking event win with a narrow victory over Ken Brewer (NSW).
November also saw the playing of the 2016 Tasmanian Senior Masters. This is a new event on the calendar and in 2016 was played at Royal Hobart Golf Club .
The inaugural winner was Queenslander Steve Toyne who easily accounted for the field winning by five strokes. Second place went to West Australian visitor Mark Gatty.
The 2017 Royal Melbourne Senior Classic is played in January using each of Royal Melbourne’s famous layouts, the West Course (number 1 in Australia), the East Course (7) and the world renowned Composite Course.
This year was the fifth playing of the event and as could be expected the opportunity to play these three layouts, coupled with the outstanding organisation of the tournament, attracts quality golfers from across Australia and New Zealand.
A ballot was needed to reduce the large list of entries and a handicap of 5.6 was the cut off number.
The 2017 New Zealand Senior Amateur Championship will be played at the Ohope course from February 9-11. An increasing number of Australian golfers are making the trip over the ditch to play this national championship and this year close to twenty Australians have entered. Current Australian senior champion Kym Olsen will lead the Aussie charge and it is time we won the title.
Each year, a 12-man Golf Australia Senior Team contests a match against the Australian Defence Forces team. This year The National Golf Club on the Mornington Peninsula will again host the event that begins on March 20.
The event will be played on the Ocean Course (rated 38) over two days, with foursomes and four-ball matches on day one, and singles matches on day two. Last year the ADFGA Team recorded a narrow 13.5 – 10.5 win over the Golf Australia team.
This event is a must do for those who get the opportunity to play as the ADF guys are a great bunch of our finest Aussies. The competition is keen with both teams looking for victory but it also a great opportunity for senior golfers to share some time and stories with our defence force personnel
The end of the month sees the 2017 NSW Senior Amateur being played for the first time at Bathurst Golf Club.
In a sure to be popular move the NSW Senior Foursome Championship is being played the day before the championship starts. An excellent start to a great week of golf.
The defending champion is NSW senior Stefan Albinski who completed a fantastic record with his victory. Albinski has now won every state and territory championship in a stellar career. He will be one of the favourites again.
Early April sees the first of the events that make up the “West Australian double” with the playing of the 2017 Royal Perth Senior Open from April 2-3.
The defending champion is West Australian Dennis Warburton who defeated Neville Delane and John Banting by one stroke in an exciting finish.
A few a days later and the 2017 West Australian Senior Championship is played at Wanneroo Golf Cub from April 5-7.
In 2016 the winner was local star golfer Paul Chappell who had a six-stroke winning margin over Australia’s top ranked senior golfer Greg Rhodes. John Banting finished in third place.
Played at same time as the West Australian title is the 2017 National Senior Masters from April 4-6. Golf doesn’t get any better than a round of each of the three courses at The National Golf Club on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
The event will again be very popular event as it is played over all three of The National’s championship courses – The Moonah (number 11 in Australia), The Old (10) and The Ocean (38).
Victorian Ian Frost is the defending champion who won in a play off from local member Simon Bracegirdle. In a star packed leaderboard Bracegirdle (69-75) held a slim lead over Gordon Claney (78-67), Tony Briers (74-72) and Ian Frost (75-70) with one round remaining.
In a nail biting playoff Frost edged our Bracegirdle with Stefan Albinski finishing two shots away in third place.
All who play in this tournament appreciate both the magnificent courses and the outstanding tournament organisation and hospitality. This is one tournament not to miss.
A break until another very popular event, the 2017 NSW Senior Classic from May 15-17. The event is played over three outstanding courses – The Lakes Golf Club (rated number 16 in Australia) and the venue for the 2011 and 2012 Australian Opens, The Australian Golf Club (12) and the host club for the 2014 and 2015 Australian Open and the beautiful tree lined Avondale (65) on Sydney’s north shore.
This is always a popular event and a strong field of low handicap players is ensured. The 2016 championship saw a tie for first place with Stefan Albinski and Gordon Claney sharing the honours. Denis Dale finished in third place.
This tournament always attracts a great field and 2017 is once again expected to attract a high quality field of local, interstate and overseas players.
Time to head north and visit the top end for the 2017 Northern Territory Senior Amateur Championship. The venue is not yet confirmed at time of writing but the dates will be May 25 to May 28. This event is played in conjunction with the Northern Territory Amateur Championship that always attracts many of the countries best younger amateur players.
A great opportunity to visit the top-end, see some of our future champions and also compete in a 72-hole national senior ranking event on a very good golf course.
Queensland senior Steve Toyne had a comfortable win in 2016 defeating Peter Hannah by nine stokes. West Australian Mark Gatty finished third.
After thee very successful years as host of the Australian Senior Matchplay Championship the Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club will again host this national championship in 2017. The event will be played from June 19-22.
This is the only match-play event on the national senior circuit and as it carries a national title and many ranking points most of Australia’s top senior golfers are expected to add this event to their 2017 golfing calendar. In 2016 a top-class field was entered for this championship and the winner was Victorian champion Gordon Claney. He defeated New Zealand’s Michael Barltrop in the final.
A busy month and it begins with the annual Australia vs New Zealand event for the Sanctuary Cove Trophy. This tournament rotates between each country and in 2017 will be played at the Sanctuary Cove Golf Club in Queensland.
Once again a 12-man team of Australians will be playing the Kiwis in this Ryder Cup format competition. The Kiwis have now established a clear lead having won seven of the ten years this event has been played. In 2017 a strong team will be representing Australia with team captain Denis Dale confident of winning back the trophy.
July is the month for the “Queensland Double” beginning with the 2017 Gold Coast Senior Classic starting on July 19. This event is currently scheduled for three outstanding courses – Royal Pines, The Glades and Hope Island but the venues are to be confirmed.
The recently redeveloped Royal Pines Golf Club (90 in Australia) was the host of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Australian PGA Championship. Not to be over shadowed are The Glades and Hope Island. The Glades is always in immaculate condition and is currently rated at number 51 in the Top 100 courses list while Hope Island sits at number 37.
The defending champion from 2016 is Victorian Gordon Claney who defeated Queensland Senior Warren Colefax by five strokes. Queenslander Mario La Chiusa finished a stroke further away in third place.
Following on from the Gold Coast is the 2017 Queensland Senior Amateur Championship to be played at the Carbrook Golf Club from July 24-26. Carbrook is a beautiful course located midway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Victorian senior Kym Olsen is the defending Queensland Seniors champion after his victory at Bribie Island Golf Club in 2016. Olsen proved too strong for the Barltrop brothers from New Zealand, Michael and Rodney, who finished in second and third place.
August 31-September 1 are the dates for the 36 hole 2017 Grange/Kooyonga Senior Classic played on two of Adelaide’s best courses. The will again be split over two courses – Kooyonga (rated 26) and Grange (East course rated at 44 and the West at 47).
Last year Greg Rhodes continued his great form with another comfortable victory. His total of 147 gave him a ten-stroke winning margin over Bew South Wakes golfers Graham Beasley and Lester Peterson.
Beginning two days after The Grange/Kooyonga tournament is the 2017 South Australian Senior Amateur Championship beginning on September 4. The venue is the Tanunda Pines Golf Course site of the 2011 Australian Senior Championship.
Victorian Greg Rhodes continued on his winning was with victory in 2016. He completely dominated the field winning by ten strokes at Victor Harbor Golf Club. NSW senior David Gleeson and Queenslander Steve Toyne finished together in second place.
Following one week after the South Australian title golfers will journey to Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance Gold Clubs for the playing of the 2017 Victorian Senior Amateur Championship beginning on September 11.
The winner in 2016 was Greg Rhodes at Coomealla Golf Club. Using his local knowledge to great effect Rhodes won by four strokes from a gallant Martin Minogue from West Australia. Queenslander Steve Toyne was his usual consistent self and finished in third place.
The 2017 Australian Senior Amateur Championship is to be played in Tasmania at the Royal Hobart Gold Club . This is the most prestigious event for the year and as usual most of Australia’s top level senior amateur golfers will line up for a chance to take home the title.
The 2016 Australian Senior champion was Victorian Kym Olsen who finished an impressive debut year in the senior ranks with the victory. Olsen played magnificent golf in the final round and his two under par 70 gave him victory by four strokes over Canadian visitor David Schultz with Greg Rhodes another five strokes away in third place.
October also sees the playing of the 2017 Asia Pacific Senior Amateur Championship. This year the championship is being played at Royal Adelaide Golf Club from October 18-20.
Australia is the reigning team champions and Greg Rhodes is the reigning individual champion after a dominant performance by the Australians in the Philippines in 2016. With the event being played in Australia there is sure to be a great field.
The new 2017-18 Australian Senior Ranking year begins with the 2017 ACT Seniors Championship to be played November 6-8 at three of Canberra’s best courses and the list is likely to include Queanbeyan, Gold Creek and Federal Golf Clubs.
The 2017 Tasmanian Senior Championship has a new date and will be held from November 15-17 at Mowbray Golf Club.
The following week the 2017 Tasmanian Senior Masters will be again played at Royal Hobart Golf Club starting on November 24.
Overall a great year of golf on some of the best courses in the country.