New Legends Tour events to bolster golf in western NSW - PGA of Australia

New Legends Tour events to bolster golf in western NSW

The PGA Legends Tour will break new ground with events in Cobar and Warren next month in what is hoped to provide a further boost to the growth of golf in western New South Wales.

Two-time Australian Open winner Peter Lonard will headline the field when the Legends Tour dips its toes into sand scrapes at Warren Golf Club on May 9, the course boasting 12 grass greens and six sand greens.

Two days later, the Legends Tour will converge on the 18 sand greens at Cobar Bowls and Golf Club for the $25,000 Cobar Legends Pro-Am.

It is new territory for PGA-sanctioned pro-ams that had not previously been further west than Dubbo, Warren a further hour west from the regional hub and Cobar two hours beyond Warren.

The events are part of a push by PGA Professional and Regional Manager for Golf NSW and Jack Newton Junior Golf, Gary Begg, to grow the game in remote communities.

Now in his third year covering an area of some 560,000 square kilometres, Begg has been the driving force behind surges in player numbers of both juniors and women.

The number of engaged juniors has skyrocketed from just one to now 160 and the number of women playing has grown from five to 80.

Begg believes that the next step to feed a growing passion for the game is a showcase of top-class professional golf on their home courses.

“The new general manager at Cobar asked how to promote the golf and bowling club and I suggested holding a professional event,” said Begg, a PGA Member since 1982.

“It’s a great way to promote the facility and a great experience for the members.

“People will often come in from all throughout the region for it so it’s a great economic boost to the town as well.”

In addition to assisting clubs with grant applications and accounts, Begg travels the countryside conducting ‘Come and Try’ days for juniors and adults.

The impact on juniors and women in particularly has been significant, providing an influx to regional clubs that they have never previously possessed.

“There was one junior golfer at Warren when I started going out there three years ago to conduct free ‘Come and Try’ days,” Begg added.

“The club didn’t expect much of a reaction but my attitude was that if we got one person to show up, they’ll be one further ahead.

“They advertised it and 35 kids turned up to that first one and it’s been like that ever since.

“I travel around holding clinics for women and what we have seen is that at the end of the program, a lot of them have joined golf clubs.

“They’ve started off with the clinics, they like it, so they keep going.

“As a result, we’re seeing an increase in membership, which is great.”

With golf now taking a stronger foothold in these remote communities, Begg has no doubt that a showcase of professional golf will see those numbers continue to build in the years to come.

“I think it’ll have a huge impact. I think it’s going to bring the next generations through of watching players, watching professionals play and create a big buzz around the town,” said Begg.

“It’ll be great for accommodation for the town, for the economies that have really struggled over the years. They’d had some pretty ordinary years out in the far west and something like this will really, really boost their economy.

“It will also promote golf to the next generation about what they can do if they work hard or just want to be involved in the game in future.”

The Warren Golf Club Legends Pro-Am will be held on Thursday, May 9 with the Cobar Legends Pro-Am to be held at the Cobar Golf and Bowls Club on the weekend of May 11-12.

There are limited amateur spots still available in both fields. To book a spot call the respective club.

Headlines at a glance

Media Centre