Charlestown uses big holes for pro-am

Charlestown members will have no excuses around the greens when the club stages its first Big Hole Pro-Am next month.

YOU CHOOSE: Big-hole golf has cups twice the normal diameter. Charlestown will experiment with the concept at its pro-am day next month.

YOU CHOOSE: Big-hole golf has cups twice the normal diameter. Charlestown will experiment with the concept at its pro-am day next month.

Club professional Ryan Smith expects a full field of 160 to enter the October 24 pro-am, which will feature oversize holes.

Canberra pro Murray Blair has pioneered big-hole golf in the past 10 years as a way to rekindle interest in the sport. He began selling eight-inch (20.32cm) cups in 2014, and several courses have used them in novelty events.

But Smith said Charlestown would be the first to try the bigger holes in a pro-am. 

“We’ve got the big holes, which is a new concept in golf, so it’s eight-inch cups instead of four-inch,” Smith said.

“It’s something different. A few clubs have tried it and used it in one-off novelty days, but no one’s really had it in a pro-am sense. It certainly makes it a lot easier, and it’s more our day is not as serious. It’s not run by the PGA. We run it ourselves.”

Smith said big-hole golf had advantages beyond simply making putting easier.

“It speeds up play, makes it a lot quicker,” he said. “You don’t take the flag out at all; you just leave it in.

“You pretty well putt when you’re ready, putt out, take your ball and go. It’s just a lot easier for your sponsors and your high handicappers who don’t play a lot of golf. I’ve played it once or twice myself in Sydney and Melbourne and it’s quite enjoyable.”

Smith said the big-hole concept had created “lots of excitement” at the club, as had the pro-am’s hole-in-one prize, a $66,000 Jaguar XE supplied by sponsor Hunter Jaguar Land Rover.

Nathan and Darren Green, Peter O’Malley, Jake Higginbottom and Callan O’Reilly will be among the pros teeing it up on October 24.

** Callan O’Reilly and Ed Stedman will play the $140,000 South Pacific Open Championship when the Australasian PGA Tour resumes this week in Noumea.

O’Reilly played the New Caledonia event for the first time last year, finishing 13th as fellow Newcastle golfer James Nitties streeted the field to win by six shots.

The 25-year-old is 57th on the tour order of merit and is hoping for a strong showing over summer to finish in the top 60 and guarantee his card for another year.

“I’ve been playing pretty solid all year. I’ve just got to get the results on the board at the right time,” O’Reilly said.

Stedman is 93rd and chasing ranking points.

** Kurt Barnes had his best scoring round of the Japanese season to finish 26th at the ANA Open in Sapporo.

Barnes shot 70-72-68-71 to finish at seven under and take home $10,500. His previous best total to par was four under in April at the Token Homemate Cup. 

** Former Newcastle rep cricketers Rhys Soper and Darren Herbert won the Muree nett foursomes on Saturday with a 73.5. John Sullivan and Grahame Bremmell won the stroke title on 78.

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