THE 2013 Australian Veteran Golfers Union National Championship in Canberra is shaping up as a beauty with three top courses selected for the November event and the national capital turning on lots of celebrations in its centenary year.
Around 400 older golfers from across the country are expected to take part in the week-long event and to take advantage of the hospitality afforded by Canberra and the surrounding region.
November is an ideal time to visit the “bush capital” with usually mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
There’s also a wealth of man-made and natural attractions in the city and surrounds, certainly enough to keep everyone interested and entertained when not on the fairways. This is particularly the case in 2013 with many special events and attractions celebrating the Centenary of Canberra.
Annual event rotating around the states
The AVGU National Championship is an annual event that rotates around the states and territories. It is open to all male and female golfers aged 55 and over with an official handicap.
The Canberra event comes after a highly successful 2012 championship on the Mornington Peninsula which attracted more than 450 competitors. Many were quick to rebook for the ACT championship.
The event will take place from November 17 – 22 with competitors playing all three courses over the week – Gold Creek Country Club, Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club and Yowani Country Club.
Planning and preparation for the event has been a three year labour of love for tournament director Paul Kringas and his team from the ACT Region Veteran Golfers Association.
Asked how the pre-tournament groundwork was going, Kringas had a quick response: “Fantastic,” he said.
Fingers crossed and apart from something unexpected like an unseasonal snow fall, it should all go like clockwork.
“We’ve got quite a few volunteers, the courses are all on side, the green keepers promise they will be in top shape,” Kringas said.
“They will do the greens coring late September, early October to make sure they are ready for November. The courses are looking good and everything is fine.
“The three deputy tournament directors I have on the three courses are working hard: lining up carts, making sure the catering will be provided, coffee on hand early, all the preparations. It has been three years in the planning and we haven’t been dragging our feet.”
Three top golf courses
Kringas said a big advantage for the tournament was that the three championship courses were all located close to each other.
“We chose the courses to be in very close proximity, there’s only 10 minutes between them, and that’s’ quite a luxury because some of the other national championships have had the courses quite far away. In Hobart and Port Macquarie they were quite spread out. But that’s just a matter of luck. We’re fortunate in the ACT that we have three excellent championship courses so close together.
“There is Gold Creek which is design by Bruce Devlin and was opened by Lee Trevino – it was a fantastic event. It is a super course, and then there is my course, Gungahlin Lakes, which is in the middle. Fourteen holes have water on them and it is a very taxing course. Then there is Yowani, where they used to hold the ACT Open for many years and it is also a great course, it is more tree-lined.
“So they are top courses and they are well run and we have good relations with them so we are expecting a good co-operation.” (Gold Creek also hosted the 1996 Senior PGA Championship.)
After a mixed medley event on the Monday, men will play a 54 hole stroke championship in three grades, with a rest day on the Wednesday. For the first time in the national championships, the highest handicapped male golfers (28 – 36) can also elect to play in a stableford D Grade event. The ladies play stableford events in two grades over the three courses.
Bookings open for Vets National Championships
As of early February, the tournament had some 200 bookings. Organisers also have a policy of giving preference to interstate visitors, at least in the lead up to the event.
“We’ve got a couple of hundred already,” Kringas said. “There’s quite a few months to go but the bookings are coming in regularly.”
“Most are from Queensland , WA is popular, South Australia. The locals are hanging off till the last minute of course, we told them not to fill the places because they might be filled by travellers and they have preference.”
“We think that is only fair because the locals play these courses on a regular basis but the visitors are looking forward to playing courses they haven’t experienced before.”
Kringas was also grateful for the sponsors attracted to the event, which include ActewAGL, APIA and Gungahlin Lakes. They are also negotiating with a caravan and motorhome company.
AVGU National Championships Online Bookings
Places in the 2013 AVGU National Championships are expected to fill quickly. Online bookings and further information are available here.