Trainees to tackle Bal­larat

Inside Golf - - News - Henry Peters ed@in­sid­e­ @hsspeters

TRAINEE pro­fes­sion­als can ex­pect less bru­tal course con­di­tions for this year’s PGA Na­tional Fu­tures Cham­pi­onship at Bal­larat Golf Club af­ter it se­cured the right to con­tinue host­ing the world’s rich­est trainee tour­na­ment for the next three years.

This year’s Fu­tures Cham­pi­onship will be held from Oc­to­ber 20 with close to 120 play­ers com­pet­ing for a share in the $55,000 prize purse.

Bal­larat Golf Club said feed­back from the 2014 in­stal­ment has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive but it will try to avoid a re­peat of the 2014 scor­ing, which saw only one player fin­ish the 72-hole event un­der par.

“We want them to en­joy it and not make it too dif­fi­cult,” said Bal­larat Golf Club gen­eral manager Michael Phillips.

“A lot of that was the wind but we’ll def­i­nitely look at how we can bet­ter set the course up. The greens were su­per-fast. The PGA (of Australia) is quite keen to work with us on that, which is great.”

As part of a more favourable course setup, Phillips in­ti­mated the club would avoid grow­ing long rough into ei­ther side of its fair­ways as it looks to give play­ers a wider tar­get to aim at from the tee.

Mean­while, Bal­larat Golf Club ad­mits it may scrap its wel­come din­ner for play­ers on the eve of the event, which was held at the club in 2014.

“The wel­come din­ner for us was great to have at the venue, we had a good guest speaker, but the peo­ple that were there were just the PGA trainees and their cad­dies. How we can bet­ter en­gage the com­mu­nity and get the com­mu­nity in­volved in the event, whether a wel­come din­ner isn’t the right way to go, ob­vi­ously we want to look at that.”

Bal­larat’s land­mark tourism site – Sovereign Hill – is be­ing con­sid­ered as a venue if the wel­come din­ner goes ahead.

“Sovereign Hill, be­ing such an im­por­tant des­ti­na­tion in Bal­larat, we just saw that as a good link. They be­lieve that it’s im­por­tant to host events in Bal­larat and get peo­ple com­ing to Bal­larat.”

Bal­larat Golf Club has been in talks with the PGA of Australia to look at ways to cre­ate added ex­po­sure for the tour­na­ment.

It will look at ex­pand­ing its Open Day, which brought about 100 peo­ple to Bal­larat Golf Club on the Sun­day dur­ing the 2014 event.

Dozens of chil­dren ben­e­fit­ted from free coach­ing from trainees dur­ing last year’s Open Day and the club re­vealed it will work with the City of Bal­larat to en­gage lo­cal mul­ti­cul­tural groups to ap­peal to non-golfers in the Bal­larat re­gion.

last year’s Fu­tures Cham­pi­onship en­joyed an in­ter­na­tional flair with two New Zealan­ders, one UK golfer and a Canadian trainee com­pet­ing and Phillips ex­pects the PGA to again pur­sue over­seas play­ers.

“They’ll send out the in­vites again to the top trainees in New Zealand, the UK as well,” Phillips said.

Phillips ex­pects the PGA of Australia to also at­tempt to lure trainees from the united States. •

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