By Brian O’Hare
VETERAN GOLFERS are in for a treat in 2014 with the national veteran golf championships to be played in the beautiful South West region of Western Australia.
The area, centred around Bunbury just an hour and half south of Perth, is the most popular regional tourist destination in the state and boasts a plethora of man-made and natural attractions – as well as some great golf courses.
Home to towering forests of karri trees, spectacular coastlines, wine-growing regions, gourmet food producers and an enviable Mediterranean climate, the region has plenty to offer golfers attending what is sure to be the highlight of the Australian veteran golfing calendar.
The 2014 Regis Australian Veteran Golfers Union National Championships will take place from November 9 – 14 when fine spring conditions should be at their best.
The championship, open to all male amateur golfers aged over 55 with an official handicap (and their partners), will be played at four of the region’s premier golf courses.
The four clubs hosting the event boast 72 hole championship standard golf courses all within easy reach of each other. They also offer golfers their own unique features and include Bunbury Golf Club, Capel Golf Club, Busselton Golf Club and Sanctuary Golf Resort.
The event, which rotates around the states and territories annually, includes a 54 hole championship for men while lady partners play daily stableford events. Importantly for couples and to avoid logistic issues, ladies will play on the same courses and at the same time as their partners.
Tournament Director Mike Elliott and his team have put in untold hours of voluntary work in ensuring the championship goes off without a hitch.
It has been very evident at the previous few national veteran championships, including Canberra in 2013 and Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in 2012, that Mike and his committee members have been prominent participants and have been looking at all aspects of running a successful week of veteran golf.
To looking after the interests of golfing couples, to getting the best local clubs on board, liaising with local tourist authorities, luring sponsors and amassing a prize pool of some $20,000, they seem to have it all covered.
After the years of work Mike is happy to see the tournament date finally looming and is confident they will be offering visitors an unforgettable golfing and tourism experience.
“Preparing to host the 2014 event is a most exciting time for the South West,” he said. “It promises to be one of this year’s great events for seniors.”
Organisers have taken well over 200 bookings but with four courses in operation and plentiful local accommodation the capacity is at least double that.
For many veteran golfers the national championship is an annual odyssey that over times sees them visiting every state and territory of what is a very big country. There are top courses to be played, reunions to be had with old friends, new connections to be made and plenty of fun to be had. Some of the low handicappers are there to challenge for the title of National Veteran Champion (Victoria’s John Ciezki will be looking to make it an unprecedented three in a row) while for many B and C graders it is all about the fun and companionship.
Many design their trips to arrive a few weeks early, or to have plenty of time after the championships to play other courses and explore further afield.
Many take their caravans (for this one you could take your van or camper and play the Nullabor Links – The World’s Longest Golf Course – on the way).
Mike is quick to extoll the region’s attractions.
“It has been said that the whole of Australia’s population could live in the South West of Western Australia,” he said. “There is abundant underground water, lush farmland, giant trees, and the South West boasts a Mediterranean climate. This is a stark contrast to some other parts of the state.
“Bunbury is the regional centre. It has a network of waterways, ample accommodation, good shopping, Australia’s newest cathedral and a busy port. Just down the coast is the tourist city of Busselton and just beyond that is the rugged cape to cape coastline. This stretch is mostly national park and contains spectacular caves besides the surfing beaches of Margaret River. There is much for the tourist to see and experience, from the dolphins and dive wrecks to surfing and sandy coves. From limestone caves, olive farms, wineries and cheese & chocolate factories to Artists’ studios and craft shops.”
All in all the 2014 Regis Australian Veteran Golfers Union National Championship will be an event not to be missed.
Further information and online registration is available at the Country Veteran Golfers Association of WA website at vetsgolf.com.au
Entries close on 30th September 2014 or earlier if the field is full.