THE horrendous summer weather experienced on the east coast of Australia in early 2022 has of course been devastating for so many people.
There are so many families who have lost their houses and possessions. The scenes we witnessed from Lismore and Woodburn at the height of the two separate floods were just heartbreaking for all of us who witnessed the tragedy unfolding.
While we need to keep a sense of perspective and understand that golf clubs are not to be included in the same vein as people houses and businesses, they are often the lifeblood and focal point of the community and, sadly, many golf courses in NSW and Queensland have also been severely affected by the flooding.
The knock-on effect of the huge amounts of rain which fell certainly presented us with a number of challenges at our tour events in recent weeks.
For us and our partners at the PGA of Australia, we had arrived in Sydney for The Webex Players Series Sydney hosted by Braith Anasta as the first tropical low to hit the East Coast in 2022 was taking its toll on South East Queensland and Northern NSW, and as the week went on it continued drifting south also battering the city of Sydney and Bonnie Doon GC over the course of the week.
In the end we were unlucky not to get a 72-hole event completed, however given most Sydney clubs were closed during our tournament week I suppose we should be thankful that we actually got a 54-hole tournament played.
The week provided many challenges for the head superintendent Cameron Smith and his incredible team at Bonnie Doon and they did an amazing job of presenting the course as it was and ensuring it remained playable for most of the tournament week.
The Players Series Hunter Valley, hosted by Jan Stephenson and Peter O’Malley, was the next event and on arrival at Cypress Lakes Resort we witnessed the damage the massive rain event had caused. It was obvious that play would not be possible at all early in the week and the pre-event practice rounds and pro-am were eventually cancelled.
The forecast for the tournament week was grim, and we were all starting to wonder if we would be able to play any golf that week.
Thankfully, and again due to the enormous amount of work superintendent Craig Molloy and his team put in to get the course playable we were somehow able to complete a 54-hole tournament, an outcome completely unthinkable at the beginning of the week.
Following the Easter break the WPGA Tour headed back to Australia’s favourite golf course, the Bonville Golf Resort, where the fourth edition of the Australian Women’s Classic was played.
It was fantastic to welcome back the players from the Ladies European Tour after a two-year hiatus due to Covid, however we were again faced with some challenges as a total of 2.34 metres of rain had fallen at the resort since January 1.
This figure is more than five times the annual rainfall for that period highlighting the challenges superintendent Aaron Todd and his team had to face just getting the course ready for play by members, let alone trying to present a course for a major professional tournament with live TV coverage.
Thanks to the sun shining early in the week the course was playable for the first two rounds, however when heavy rain started on Friday evening and play was suspended due to the course flooding, there were many people wondering (including myself) if we could somehow find a way to finish the 36 holes required to make the event official.
On Saturday, after almost 40mls of overnight rain, there was no play possible in the morning, however somehow we manage to complete the second round at 4:30pm which was a huge relief to everyone involved in the running of the event.
The weather gods allowed us to finish the third and final round on Sunday afternoon where Englishwoman Meghan Maclaren claimed an emotional victory – her third title in the state of NSW.
After Bonville we headed up to Tweed Heads where we witnessed 22-year-old Swedish sensation Maja Stark take out the NSW Women’s Open title at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club, just four weeks after the course was inundated by the Tweed River for the second time in 2022.
Fortunately the weather was kinder to us the week prior to and the week of the tournament itself, meaning we could get the full 72 holes in – the first time that has been possible on the WPGA Tour since The Players Series Murray River at Cobram-Barooga in late January.
Again it was a huge effort from superintendent Peter Lonergan and his team to present the course as they did. It was actually incredible how good the course was by the time the event started.
I think that most people involved in golf know that our golf course superintendents and their staff are the unsung heroes of our industry. They work some crazy hours and their commitment to delivering their golf course in the best possible condition day after day is really to be admired.
I have seen this at very close hand this year at all of our tournaments, but in particular at these four most recent events and I cannot praise the work the respective teams put in enough just to ensure that our events could be played.
Next time when you are out having a hit and you see one of the green staff out on the course, just take a couple of minutes time to say a quick hello and a thank you. I know it will be greatly appreciated!