Pro-Am returns to Karratha Golf Club

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Professional golfers at Karratha Golf Club for the Pro-Am tournament.
Camera IconProfessional golfers at Karratha Golf Club for the Pro-Am tournament. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Professional golfers descended on Karratha Golf Club and put locals to the test last Thursday when the club hosted a round of the PGA Australia Pro-Am series, marking a return of the high-profile tour to the area after a three-year hiatus.

A field of 91 players, including 21 professionals and 70 amateurs, competed in the Citic Pacific Mining Pro-Am Karratha, where $11,000 worth of prize money was on the table.

The Pro-Am series is a feeder tour for the PGA tour of Australasia and each year hosts close to 200 events across Australia and New Zealand for professional and amateur golfers, with different levels of competitors playing side-by-side.

Karratha Golf Club welcomed the players with a social barbecue and player question-and-answer session on Wednesday evening before the competition teed off on Thursday.

Despite strong winds testing professionals’ skills on the sand-green coastal course, Pro-Am first-timers Victorian Ben Ford and WA’s Jason Chellew mastered the conditions to emerge the joint winners, recording 2-under-par 70 to take home winners’ cheques of $1805 each.

Pro-Am Karratha joint winners Jason Chellew and Ben Ford.
Camera IconPro-Am Karratha joint winners Jason Chellew and Ben Ford. Credit: Kim Felton

Fellow pro player Braden Becker played great golf, shooting a sub-par round to tie with Rick Kulacz for third place with 1-under-par 71, and Daniel Fox finished in fifth place on his own with an even-par 72.

Chellew praised the Karratha event, thanking the golf club committee for giving professionals the opportunity to return, and describing the local course as “one of the best I have seen”.

Among the amateurs, the day’s Stableford winners were Andrew Jenkins in men’s division 1 on 40 points, David Innes in the men’s second division on a score of 42, and Judy Hill for the women with 38 points.

The players with the best gross scores were Shelley Schussler with 89 points and Vaughan Smith on 72.

Vaughan Smith takes a swing.
Camera IconVaughan Smith takes a swing. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera
Steve Medling takes a hit on sand.
Camera IconSteve Medling takes a hit on sand. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Karratha Golf Club president Gary Rayson said the event had been a big success and had given members a rare opportunity to learn from some leading Australian players.

“Given our remoteness, our members don’t get to play against or see professionals play very often, so to be part of an event where they get to see how the pros play the game and learn from them is a really exciting opportunity,” he said.

“These are quality professionals and some of them will go on to play with tour events nationally and internationally, so it’s a real buzz for all our members to play alongside them.”

Robert Fedorowicz takes a swing at the Pro-Am as Gary Rayson watches on.
Camera IconRobert Fedorowicz takes a swing at the Pro-Am as Gary Rayson watches on. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera
Lisa Anderson lines up a shot.
Camera IconLisa Anderson lines up a shot. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Rayson said the club and tour organisers hoped to host the event again next year, subject to available dates and sponsorship.

PGA WA manager Kim Felton said the Pro-Am format of professionals and amateur golfers playing side-by-side was part of the spirit of the game, while also offering pros a chance to qualify for bigger events down the line.

“These events are all qualifiers in order of merit, which then gives (pro players) stepping stones to bigger tour events and basically consolidating a spot on the Australian PGA tour,” he said.

“For example, Jason Scribner played here last time, in 2014, and he’s now in America playing the US Open. So these are pathway events to bigger and better things.”

The Pro-Am professionals were due to continue the northern swing of their tour in Port Hedland and Broome over the next week before returning to Perth.

Eddie Mott sends a ball close to the hole.
Camera IconEddie Mott sends a ball close to the hole. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera
Jenni Peters takes a shot.
Camera IconJenni Peters takes a shot. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

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