Queenslander takes out Pro-Am title

Class: Brisbane's Tim Hart took out this year's Latrobe City WIN Television Traralgon Pro-Am Classic. photograph liam durkin




THE Latrobe City WIN Television Traralgon Pro-Am Classic delivered another two days of high quality golf.

Despite heavy rain ending the tournament prematurely last Friday, the event saw more than 70 professional golfers take to the fairways of the Traralgon Golf Club for one of the most prestigious Pro-Am’s in regional Victoria.

Brisbane’s Tim Hart won the Pro-Am after shooting nine-under par 63 on day one.

Hart was level with Blake Collyer at 12-under when play was suspended, but with lightning strikes and some holes under water, the siren was sounded and the second round abandoned with Hart declared the winner.

The Queenslander nailed nine birdies in the opening round to go one clear of Collyer. Hart began Friday with three straight birdies, while Collyer had to make do with taking outright second after shooting eight under 64 the previous day.

Having been to Traralgon a number of times, Hart said it was gratifying to finally get his hands on the trophy.

“Over the years I’ve played well here but never managed to get the win so it’s finally good to,” he said.

“I always love coming back here to Traralgon and just good memories, good to come back to a course I’m familiar with.”

Hart said he felt he was in a good headspace for the tournament.

“I think my mentality the last few days, I’ve been getting a bit upset over the last few weeks with my golf so I just tried to stay calm and take each shot as it came and I managed to do that very well,” he said.

“I managed to keep the mistakes off the card, no bogeys for both rounds, it was nice just to have no mistakes.

“It was tight, there was a few guys playing well so it was good to keep in my own game and just play well.

“I knew the boys behind me were going to keep making birdies so I had to keep making birdies of my own.”

Hart pocketed $25,000 for winning the Pro-Am, and continued his recent run of good form after making the cut at the Australian PGA and Queensland PGA Championships.

Following Traralgon, most of the professionals headed to Bairnsdale to take part in another Pro-Am.

In what is a fascinating revelation, the lifestyle for the majority of professional golfers doesn’t carry the glitz and glamour one might assume.

Many of the professionals at Traralgon work regular day jobs, and their journey going from place-to-place for tournaments is totally self-funded.

Becoming a pro generally means one cannot just focus on playing either, as coaching, teaching and running a pro-shop form the basis of qualification.

As much as the tournament was highlighted by the professionals, it also offered the chance for everyday golfers to gain a few insights and learn some tricks of the trade. The round was kept moving as the amateurs played stableford, all the while the professionals sought to add to their Order of Merit by completing the course in the most efficient manner possible.

Like all professionals regardless of profession, the pro-golfers made everything they did look incredibly easy.

That being said, there was still the odd fluffed or slightly sliced drive, showing that even the best can get it wrong occasionally.

Where the professionals differed from most amateurs however when an error happened was in their ability to recover. The professionals seemed to be able to get out of trouble by purposely making the ball bend or cut corners to place their ball in a position that made the next shot easier.

The other difference, arguably the greatest, was in the short game.

So often a weekend golfer will find themselves on the green in three shots and within one stroke of par, only to three putt the hole and have it turned into a double-bogey.

Conversely, the professional, as was the case at the Pro-Am, nailed the majority of putts within close proximity to the hole.

Playing in the Friday morning session alongside professional Wade Lowrie, this writer generally found the professional hit his tee shots around 150 metres further than I could manage.

With another Pro-Am completed, Traralgon Golf Club Pro-Am Committee chair Andy Milbourne said the tournament had been the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

“It was great to see, the main aim is to get some really good professional and amateurs out on the course, and give the locals an opportunity to play with them shoulder-to-shoulder and see some top line golf up close and personal,” he said.

“The field was absolutely awesome, a lot of players such as Marcus (former European Tour player Marcus Fraser) have been back year after year so it is really good that they actually come along and support the club in this way and they are bringing some of these young guys through as well.

“It is good to see some of the ladies playing as well, we really want to develop that even more and maybe look at developing the junior side of things as well.

“All the players, professionals, amateurs, sponsors and everyone else that turned up they were absolutely rapt in relation to how the course was presented, it is just a great event to be involved in.

“Unfortunately the weather played havoc and we had to suspend play and then cancel play after nine holes of the final round, which is really unfortunate because the course is in the best condition we’ve ever seen, but there is not much we can do, it is an outdoor sport and that is the hazards that we have to put up with.

“We had to call it because there was lightning coming through and in the interest of safety for players we didn’t want anyone out there getting hurt, as it happened, just as we got everyone back into the clubhouse we had a couple of lightning strikes on the course, so the right decision was made.

“The work that the committee does starts 12 months out, so after this event we’ll take a break for a week or so and then we’ll be back into it.”

As for this writer, he was told he needs to open up his front foot more in order to hit the ball cleaner by the time the next Latrobe City WIN Television Traralgon Pro-Am Classic rolls around.

Great experience: Ken Barnes of Churchill and Monash Golf Club chips during the Pro-Am.