Mornington GC youngsters take pro-am trip of a lifetime

The role of a PGA Professional is dynamic and ever-changing.

The role of a PGA Professional is dynamic and ever-changing.

"HainanCoordination of club competitions/events, coaching, sales and repairs are generally things you would find on a professional’s CV but “teen sitting” three adolescent boys on a trip of a lifetime in another hemisphere, however, is generally out of the job description.

For Mornington Golf Club Head Professional Michael Faraone, the opportunity to show three of his talented juniors what golf abroad looked like was a welcome change to the daily grind of pro shop life.

The 2019 Hainan Island Pro-Am was held at the fabulous Mission Hills Resort Haikou from 5-11 April, 2019. It was an opportunity for members to take three amateurs overseas and experience everything that China has to offer, from cuisine and culture to golf courses rarely seen in the western world.

Michael offered the opportunity to junior squad players Harry Dobson, Aiden McDonagh and Cooper Marriott, who all answered with a resounding “YES!” although at that stage, without the consent of their parents. With plenty of pleading and a mutual showing of trust, the boys joined Michael on a flight from Melbourne to Haikou.

Upon arrival, players were treated to a welcome ceremony and Chinese banquet with a variety of cultural acts performed on the night. New dishes were tasted, with mixed, mostly positive reviews and after a solid night’s sleep, the tournament began.

120 pro and amateur players competed in a modified stableford team event, a welcome change to the sometimes mundane offering that is stroke play.

After round 1, the boys were well placed in 5th position, after a combined score of +29.

Round 2 saw the Mornington Golf Club team climb to 3rd position, with a day of + 26. That night, sensing the need for a pep-talk, Michael sat the boys down and gave them his inside knowledge on how to handle pressure and deal with the moment in the hope of claiming the event.

Round 3 was a rollercoaster with team Faraone entering the back-9 at the difficult Blackstone course a few points adrift. Chasing down the lead, they all turned it on at the right time and walked away with a convincing winning score of + 54, to finish with a total of +129 – 24 points ahead of their nearest rival. To say Cooper, Harry and Aiden were pumped was an understatement.

“Such a cool event and the courses were awesome. We’ve had the best time,” said Aidan McDonagh.

Michael detailed the following at the completion of the event:

“The highlight of the trip for the boys was winning the three-day tournament. To go down the stretch in contention with nine holes to play and perform under the pump was a massive achievement for them.”

“They represented their golf club against an adult field, showing maturity with everything they did for the week (except for their antics around the pool). The experience of international travel, especially without their parents, was very different for them. Although I was there to guide them at the airport etc, they are now much more comfortable to attempt that on their own. To them, the world now seems like a smaller place.”

“The experience provided by both CGE and the PGA has triggered an interest to travel more – the travel bug has certainly got them. They can’t wait to defend.”

From a vocational standpoint, Michael ticked all the boxes. They were often the last group on the practice green at night, honing their skills with drills delivered by their trusted coach. He was a great role model, introducing them to other PGA Members and inviting them to try things they perhaps wouldn’t have done otherwise. It was great to see a PGA Member think outside the box and give back to the future of the game, all whilst trying to concentrate on his own. For the record, Michael finished in a commendable 6th position, on + 11 points.

Opportunities like these are becoming more common on the Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series. We urge members to consider these opportunities as investments for the future. After seeing the boys in action, I can confidently say this won’t be the last time we see their names in lights at a PGA sanctioned event.

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