SYDNEY’S Pennant Hills Golf Club’s Alex Pitty has capped a marvellous final year of his PGA traineeship by making history as the first winner of the Inside Golf NSW/ACT Trainees Matchplay Championship.
The 2015 Trainees Captain of the Professional Golfers Association’s NSW/ACT Division, Pitty beat Royal Sydney’s Michael Smyth 4-3 in a high quality final at Monash late in October.
Pitty, who collected $1200 for his win, was well under par after an eagle and three birdies, when he clinched the match on the 15th hole.
On paper he had teed off as the underdog as, despite having plenty of interclub pennants matchplay experience as an amateur, Smyth is a former NSW Amateur Championship matchplay title winner and was captain of the NSW team in the amateur interstate matchplay series.
Pitty teed off to a brilliant start to go one up with an eagle at the testing par-5 first hole, but then lost three holes in succession. However, in a cut-and-thrust match he won the next five holes to reach the turn three-up.
Such was the attacking flavour of the 18-holes final, the first hole to be halved came at the 12th, but Pitty then held the lead to clinch it on the 15th green.
While not having a national amateur career—although becoming a State squad member after only taking up golf seriously at Wyong Golf club eight years ago—Pitty has shone as a PGA Trainee, scoring consistently well in the trainees’ weekly tournaments.
In 2014 he finished second in the 72-hole PGA Futures Championship, the trainees’ national title, and a few months back was fourth in the 72-hole NSW/ACT Trainees Championship at Riverside Oaks.
After graduating as a PGA Member this year, he intends to fully test his game in PGA pro-ams and major tournaments in 2016.
“The final against Michael, who also had three birdies, was a tough test, as had been most of the matches we had to play to reach the decider,” Pitty said.
The PGA of Australia’s Corinne Kelleher, the NSW/ACT Member Services Coordinator and also a PGA Member, who supervises the Trainees program, is hoping to expand the event in 2016 and have up to 64 players competing.
“This year’s event, believed to be the Division’s first matchplay title in a decade, was created by the 2015 trainee committee of Alex Pitty (Pennant Hills) Josh Rindfleish (The Australian) Jen Schulenburg (Bayview) Lachlan Foulsham (Killara) Matthew Voglis (Bonnie Doon,” Kelleher said.
“The idea was driven from their receiving many requests from fellow trainees wanting to play a matchplay style event.
“Two Trainees, Nick Simpson, of Monash Golf club, and Scott Barsby, from Muirfield, were the main organisers and, crucially, were able to gain the much-needed financial and media support of Australia’s most-read golf magazine Inside Golf.
“Marco Zirov (Eastlake GC) was the surprise of the tournament. He was seeded 21 but defeated players seeded 12 Jason Butt (Wyong Golf Club) and 4 Steven Slappendel (Muree GC).”
And the good news is that Inside Golf’s Publisher Sam Arthur has agreed to support the event in 2016.
“When Scott, a valued former Inside Golf staff member, and Nick approached us to help them tee off the matchplay we were happy to assist where we could,” Arthur said.
“Matchplay golf historically is where the game began and Inside Golf was pleased to be able to assist the PGA Trainees in reviving the championship in the NSW/ACT Division.
“We will have more discussions with the PGA as to how we can assist in building on this year’s success in 2016, maybe by providing monthly progressive updates of results,” Arthur added.
2015 NSW/ACT Trainees honour roll
The Inside Golf matchplay final coincided with the last weekly NSW/ACT Trainees strokeplay event for 2015 at Cromer Golf Club, after which the annual awards were presented, including the following:
2015 Order of Merit Winner: Josh Ingram (Eastlake GC)
2015 Champion of Champions: Josh Ingram (Eastlake GC)
2015 Rookie of the year: Andrew Thompson (Monash CC)
2015 Trainee Pro-Am of the Year (joint winners) Bayview GC trainee Jen Schulenburg and Twin Creeks Country Club trainee Courtney McNeil
2015 Female Trainee player of the year: Aliza Huff (Chatswood GC)
Low rounds of the year: Jonathan Painter (Avondale) 7-under at Terrey Hills; Josh Rindfleish (The Australian) 7-under at The Coast GC