MT WARREN Park Golf Club head professional Gary Burmester is making a habit of making the news.
Last month, Burmester received the Queensland Club Professional of the Year Award at the Queensland Golf Industry Awards at Jupiters Gold Coast.
Recognised by a panel of his peers, Burmester has been actively involved in the Queensland golf industry, his efforts highlighted by a record eight appearances at the Holden Scramble Championship final, staging a number of PGA tournaments, showing leadership to his PGA trainees and project managing a number of key course design changes.
Earlier this year, Burmester and Tasmania Golf Club pro Nick White made the news when chosen as the two additional professionals to represent Australia against China.
The pair will join the 2012 winning Holden Scramble teams, Glenden and Deniliquin, to play the Chinese in home-and-away matches.
And late last year, the 51-year-old hit the headlines when he out-muscled his much younger and fitter Sunshine Tour rivals to win the long-drive competition at the Howeston Golf Course pro-am.
In fact, Queensland Golf Industry Awards emcee, Fred Lang, made mention of Burmester’s famous victory over the flat-bellies.
Burmester is a popular figure around Mt Warren Park Golf Club where he has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to the job.
He gave up work as a cabinetmaker in the late 1970s to pursue a professional career and did his traineeship at Helensvale Golf Club under the guidance of Randall Vines.
When Burmester completed his traineeship in 1980, he hit the road in his panel van to play the Troppo Tour with the likes of Peter Senior, Ian Baker-Finch, Wayne Grady, Peter McWhinney et al.
Times were tough in the early days and Burmester slept in his panel van to save money.
“Most of the guys would stay in hotels and motels, but I would sleep in the back of my van on a double mattress,” he said.
“One of the guys would let me shower in their room and then I would jump in the back of the van, put the golf clubs on the front seat and settle in for the night.
“Next morning there’d be car loads of pros ready to drive to the next pro-am.
“We all had CB radios so we could talk to each other on the road.”
Burmester said they were fun times when the players enjoyed playing a few harmless pranks.
“I could tell you some interesting stories, but it’s best if I don’t,” Burmester teased.
One of his proudest achievements as a professional was playing in the rich Daikyo Palm Meadows Cup in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“There were some great players in the field like Greg Norman, Curtis Strange, Craig “Walrus” Stadler and Rodger Davis,” he said.
“I played in two of those and made the cut both times. I remember having an eagle on the 18th when there was a huge gallery around the green. It was a great feeling.”
Last year, Burmester joined the Australian Legends Tour and managed two runner-up finishes.
“I am really enjoying playing the tour again,” he said. “After 30 years, I have started practising again and will trying to get in the Australian Club Pro Championship again.”
Still, what Burmester enjoys most is mixing with the club members. He also loves tinkering and repairing golf clubs out the back of his pro shop.
Now he is sharing the knowledge and passing on the skills to the next generation of trainee pros.
“We do a lot of club repairs as well as lie-and-loft angles and spray paint metal heads to make them look new again. Some of the other club pros even send clubs here for me to do because I have the machinery.”
And if a member has an old golf cart that needs to be brought back to life, Burmester is more than happy to tackle the job – big or small.
Aside from organising three Holden Scramble events each year, Burmester organises a pro-am and the Bunga Masters.
What’s the Bunga Masters?
“Well, Bunga is my nickname so I started the Bunga Masters where I take 32 to 40 members on a mystery tour to play a 54-hole event,” he explained.
“We all jump in the bus and they don’t know where I am taking them.
“Sometimes I will tell the bus driver to go around a round-about a few times just to confuse them.
“They are all quality venues so the members are never disappointed.”
The full list of Queensland golf industry award winners:
PGA Chairman’s Award: Bill and Lyn Weston, Howeston Golf Course
Golf Print Tournament of the Year: Bartons/ BMD Wynnum Pro Am
Metropolitan Tournament of the Year: Norris Motor Group Royal Queensland
Regional Tournament of the Year: Pat O’Driscoll Real Estate and Tropical Auto Group Capricorn Golf Classic and Toowoomba BMW and Westpac Middleridge Pro-Am
Club Professional of the Year: Gary Burmester, Mt Warren Park Golf Club
Teaching Professional of the Year: Grant Field, Grant Field Golf Academy
Trainee of the Year: Atomu Watanabe
PGA Trainee Order of Merit winner: Ben Fletcher
PGA Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner: Grant Scott
Platinum Partner Program PGA Rookie of the Year: Sven Puymbroeck
PGA IGI Excellence in Education Award: Steven Jeong
GMAQ Manager of the Year: Steve Hutchinson, Twin Waters
GMAQ Golf Club of the Year: City Golf Club
Golf Queensland Junior Male Amateur of the Year: Viraat Badwhar
Golf Queensland Junior Female Amateur of the Year: Lauren Mason
Golf Queensland Male Amateur Award: Cameron Smith
Golf Queensland Female Amateur Award: Ali Orchard
Club Super Volunteer of the Year: Terry Ward
Toro Superintendents Golf Course Turf Apprentice of the Year: Jacob Freeman
Bayer Superintendents Environment Award: Dave Morrison
Chesterfield/ John Deere Superintendents Achievement Award: Dean Henderson
Superintendents Industry Recognition Award: Jon Penberthy
Golf Supplier of the Year: Coca Cola Amatil