2018 A great year for Australian Senior Amateur Golf: How, When and Where to Play

The Island Golf Club Nambucca Heads is one of the great courses on offer to senior golfers in 2018


By Denis Dale

2017 was a fantastic golfing year but the more exciting news is the great calendar of events and courses available for Australia’s senior amateur golfers in 2018.  Many of Australia’s top 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 Order of Merit Competition

Now entering its thirteenth year the Australian Senior Ranking competition has been renamed to the Golf Australia Senior Order of Merit (SOOM).

The Golf Australia SOOM is primarily aimed at Australian based golfers who contest Australian events. It encourages participation among low-handicapped golfers and allows them to monitor their own development and form.

It is a competition that provides top-level golf for seniors who are ready to travel across the country to compete at the highest level. The 2018 calendar will include 18 events across every state and territory.

Who can play in Senior Order of Merit 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 most events are open to all senior golfers and with a generous handicap limit. All entry forms contain this information.

The Australian Senior Amateur, The National Masters and the NSW Senior Classic are popular events and a handicap ballot may be required. The best policy for these events is to enter and wait to see if a ballot is needed.

How does the Senior Order of Merit work?

The Golf Australia web site has full details on the Senior Order of Merit. While each SOOM event stands alone with prizes awarded in scratch, age and handicap divisions, SOOM points are also awarded to all players after the tournament.  

The number of competitors from inside the Top 20 on the SOOM 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 SOOM positions and current points is available on the AUSOOM website (www.ausoom.com).

When are the Senior Order of Merit ranking points used?

At the end of each SOOM year Golf Australia medals are awarded to those seniors in the top three positions in the overall scratch and the over 65 sections.

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.

Using a rolling 12-month table ensures selection is based on performance over a full twelve-month period. As events are played the old event drops off e.g. points gained in the 2017 Australian Senior Amateur Championship will remain current until replaced when the 2018 Australian Senior Amateur Championship is played.

The spectacular National Golf Club on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula will host a number of senior events
  • The Sanctuary Cove Trophy

A 12-man Australian Senior team is selected every year to play New Zealand for the Sanctuary Cove Trophy. The team has already been selected for February 2018 when the match will be played at the Christchurch Golf Club in New Zealand.

Golf Australia covers the cost of a return economy airfare ($500 grant), twin-share accommodation, official functions, and other costs determined by Golf Australia. Minor costs are at the expense of the players (i.e. local transport, breakfasts and lunches.) 

  • The Asia Pacific Seniors Championship

A six-man team to represent Australia in the 2018 Asia Pacific Championships will be selected after the 2018 Queensland Senior Amateur in August.

Golf Australia covers the following costs: return economy airfare, official accommodation, entry fee, and official functions. Other small costs are at the expense of the player (i.e. breakfasts, lunches, etc) 

  • Golf Australia vs the Australian Defence Force

A 12-person Golf Australia Senior team will be selected for a match against the Australian Defence Forces Golf Association at The National Golf Club in March, 2018. Selection in the team is based on the current SOOM at the end of January.

Any senior who has represented in the previous Sanctuary Cove or Asia Pacific teams is ineligible. This policy ensures a wider range of senior golfers are rewarded with major team selection each year.

There have been changes to the selection criteria for 2018 and they are explained on the Golf Australia web site. In summary, the team will now include two mid amateurs (male and female) and the leading senior female.

Golf Australia covers the cost of a return economy airfare for interstate players (TBC for 2018), two nights’ accommodation, official functions, and carts. Other minor costs are at the expense of the players (i.e. local transport, breakfasts and lunches.) Local players may choose to stay with the team.

The Greg Norman designed The Glades on the Gold Coast

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 2018 the year to put the plan into action.

What events are on in 2018?

The National Ranking year runs from November to the end of October meaning the first three events for the 2018 year have already been played.

The 2018 ACT Senior Championship was played in November on three courses – Queanbeyan, Gold Creek and Federal Golf Clubs.

NSW senior Mark Pearson had rounds of 73-73-73 for a total of 219 and prove far too good for a strong field.

Pearson recovered from a poor start at Queanbeyan Golf Club and was 6 over par after his first nine holes. From there Pearson played beautifully to record ten birdies and finish the 54-hole event at five over par.

Second place went to the timeless veteran Ross Bockman who had the distinction of claiming the tournament low round with a brilliant 70 (two under) at Gold Creek. Bockman had rounds of 81-70-76 to total 227.

Third place went to popular Yass visitor Paul Matthews who had rounds of 79-72-77 for a total of 228.

In November the 2017 Tasmanian Senior Amateur Championship was played at its regular home, the Mowbray Golf Club.

Kym Olsen from Victoria shot a last round of 69 to come from behind and claim the title from overnight leader Michael Leedham.

Olsen played a great round to eventually defeat Leedham by two strokes. Third place went to South Australia’s John Davey.

November also saw the playing of the 2017 Tasmanian Senior Masters played at Royal Hobart Golf Club.

Queensland’s Brad Dowling was the winner and the points gained helped him win selection in the 2018 Sanctuary Cove team.

The Southport member fired a final four-over-par round of 76 to win the event by two strokes from the defending champion Queenslander Stephen Toyne who carded a final round 77. Local member and overnight leader, Peter Shaw, finished in third place.


The 2018 New Zealand Senior Amateur Championship will be played at the Christchurch 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 more than twenty Australians have entered. Current Australian senior champion Greg Rhodes will lead the Aussie charge. It is time an Aussie won the title.

February also sees the playing of the annual Australia vs New Zealand event for the Sanctuary Cove Trophy. This tournament rotates between each country and in 2018 will also be played at the Christchurch Golf Club on the south island of New Zealand. 

A 12-man team of Australians will be playing the Kiwis in this Ryder Cup format competition. The Australian team was victorious in 2017 ending a period of domination by the Kiwis. In 2018 a strong team will be representing Australia with team captain Denis Dale confident of back to back victories.


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 25.

The event will be played 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 convincing 14.5 – 9.5 win over the Golf Australia team. Queenslander Mike Peeck is again the team captain.

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 2018 NSW Senior Amateur being played for the first time at the Island Golf Club in beautiful Nambucca Heads. 

Following the success of 2017, the NSW Senior Foursomes Championship is being played the day before the championship starts, also at The Island course. An excellent start to a great week of golf.

The defending champion is NSW senior Robert Payne who won an exciting championship at Bathurst Golf Club in 2017.


Early April sees the first of the events that make up the “West Australian double” with the playing of the 2018 Royal Perth Senior Open from April 1-2.

The defending champion is West Australian Paul Chappell who defeated Trevor Hughes and Mark Gatty with a commanding five stroke margin in 2017.

A few a days later the 2018 West Australian Senior Championship is played at Mandurah Golf Cub from April 4-6.

In 2017 the winner was WA senior star John Banting who had a massive ten-stroke winning margin over Trevor Hughes and John Davey who were tied for second.

The following week is the 2018 National Senior Masters from April 10-12. 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).

In 2017 Kym Olsen secured the coveted green jacket on the Ocean Course following a dominating display of artistry on the links. Using his home ground knowledge, Olsen carded 3 sub-par rounds for a record breaking 54-hole total of 5 under par which included 15 birdies in total for the championship.

The Victorian finished a seven-shot winner over fellow National Club member Mark Limon. Rounding out the top 3 positions and trio of local winners at 5 over par was 2016 runner-up Simon Bracegirdle.

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.

Pambula- Merimbula Golf Club

April also sees the playing of the inaugural 2018 Sapphire Coast Senior Amateur. This event will be played over 2 courses – Tura Beach and Pambula- Merimbula. These neighbouring courses are located on the beautiful Sapphire Coast on the southern coast of New South Wales.

Beginning on April 15 with 36 holes at Tura Beach the players have a day to enjoy the pleasures of the Sapphire Coast before the final 36 holes at Pambula-Merimbula begins on April 18.


Another very popular event, the 2018 NSW Senior Classic, is played from May 15-17. This event is played over three outstanding courses – The Lakes Golf Club (the venue for the 2011 and 2012 Australian Opens), The Australian Golf Club (venue for the 2014, 2015 and 2017 Australian Opens) and the beautiful tree lined Avondale on Sydney’s north shore.  

The Australian Golf Club first hole set up for the Australian Open

This is always a popular event and a strong field of low handicap players is ensured. The 2017 championship was played at The Australian and The Lakes Golf Clubs and saw a tie for first place with Gordon Claney and Paul Maslen sharing the honours. NSW senior Russell Bunn finished in third place.

This tournament always has a great field and 2018 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 2018 Northern Territory Senior Amateur Championship. The venue is Darwin Golf Club from May 30 to June 3. This event is played in conjunction with the Northern Territory Amateur Championship that always attracts many of the country’s best younger amateur players.

A great opportunity to visit the top-end, see some of our future champions and compete in a national SOOM event on a very good golf course.

In 2017 a trio of Australia’s best senior golfers made the trek north and they filled the top three places. The winner was Greg Rhodes from Kym Olsen and Steve Toyne.

Darwin Golf Course
Darwin Golf Club




After four very successful years as host of the Australian Senior Matchplay Championship the Coolangatta-Tweed Heads Golf Club will again host the National Matchplay Championship in 2018 from June 16-19.

This year the Tweed Heads-Coolangatta club is staging the event on their own following a decision by Golf Australia to withdraw the event from the SOOM.

This is the only match-play event on the national senior circuit and as it should carry many SOOM ranking points the club is hoping that Australia’s senior golfers again support the event.

In 2017 a top-class field was entered for this championship and the winner was Queenslander Steve Toyne who defeated defending champion Victoria’s Gordon Claney in a tense final.

July is also the month for the “Queensland Double” beginning with the 2018 Gold Coast Senior Classic starting on July 25. This event is scheduled for three outstanding courses – Lakelands, The Glades and Hope Island Golf Clubs

Lakelands is a demanding test and is rated 56 in the Australian Top 100. 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 while Hope Island sits at number 37.

On 2017 the defending champion Gordon Claney from Kingston Heath won by three shots. Although Claney (75-70-79) had a final round of 79 he won comfortably from Stefan Albinski (77-72-78) who finished with a score of 78. Kiwi visitor Robbie Bell finished third after his three rounds of 74-76-80.

Coolangatta Tweed Heads Golf Club

Following on from the Gold Coast is the 2018 Queensland Senior Amateur Championship to be played at the Coolangatta Tweed Heads Golf Club from July 30 to August 1. “Coolie” is a great challenge on either of their 36 holes.

Victorian champion senior Kym Olsen added the Queensland title to his resume with a wire-to-wire victory at Carbrook.

Olsen, a 56-year-old from The National GC in Victoria, took a nine-shot lead into the final round which he retained until the end. He was the only player to finish with a sub-par aggregate after rounds of 69-68-74 on the Par-71 Carbrook layout.

He defeated Victorian Ian Frost (Rich River) who also closed with a 74 while Queenslander Peter Dagan (Redcliffe) was a further three strokes back in third place.

Sandwiched between the Gold Coast Classic and the Queensland Seniors is the 2018 Darwin Open Amateur. This event is scheduled to start on July 27 and finish on July 29. It coincides with the Darwin Cup (horse racing) and a week of festivities so a clash with Queensland could not be avoided. This event includes a senior component and carries SOOM status.

The spectacular Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide


August 30-31 are the dates for the 36-hole 2018 Grange/Kooyonga Senior Open 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 made it three Grange-Kooyonga titles in a row when he again successfully defended his title. This year NSW player Lester Peterson pushed him all the way recording the best round at Kooyonga of 75.

Players had to deal with 30 to 40 km winds and glassy greens that tested the field. Rhodes eventually won by two shots from Lester Peterson.


Beginning a few days after The Grange/Kooyonga tournament is the 2018 South Australian Senior Amateur Championship beginning on September 4. The venue for the second leg of the “SA Double” is Loxton Golf Club.

John Davey won the 2017 South Australian Seniors at Tanunda Pines Golf Club. In the final round Davey had the best round of the tournament closing with a great round of 74. Davey was the only player to break 80 in all three rounds and thoroughly deserved his win.

Greg Rhodes finished second and will want to forget the closing holes in round one. Rhodes dropped six shots in five holes in a very uncharacteristic few holes for Australia’s leading senior golfer.

Third place went to Australian team mates Ken Brewer and Geoff Cranfield. Brewer finished well after a bad start while Cranfield slipped a little in his closing round.

September also sees the 2018 Victorian Senior Amateur Championship beginning on September 10 and running until September 12. The venue in 2018 is Hill Top and Shepparton Golf Clubs on the Murray River.

In 2017 Doug Francis defeated clubmate John Kelly by one stroke to claim the Victorian Senior Amateur Championship. The Metropolitan members battled each other all day with Francis closing with 73 to Kelly’s 75. Francis’ scorecard was 79-71-73=223 against Kelly’s 70-79-75=224.

Third place went to Gordon Claney who tried hard to recover from an opening 82 but it proved a little too much. Claney finished with 82-72-72

Spring Valley Golf Club on Melbourne’s Sandbelt will host the 2018 Australian Senior Amateur Championship



The 2018 Australian Senior Amateur Championship is to be played in Victoria at the Spring Valley Golf Club from October 9 to 11. 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.

2017 saw Greg Rhodes win his second Australian Seniors title with a three-stroke victory at Royal Hobart Golf Club.

Rhodes led by four after 36 holes and closed with a 76 to defeat Kiwi star Michael Barltrop who finished with a 75. Paul Chappell from West Australia finished in outright third place with his closing 73.

October also sees the playing of the 2018 Asia Pacific Senior Amateur Championship. This year the championship is being played in Japan but the exact dates and venue are yet to be decided.

Australia is the reigning team champions and Kiwi Brent Paterson the reigning individual champion after a dominant performance by him at Royal Adelaide last year.


November is the start of a new season for the Australian Senior Order of Merit.




  1. Thanks Mike. Denis certainly does a great job promoting senior golf doesn’t he. Will alert him to your comment.

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