Belmont recovers from Amateur setback

Belmont Golf Club will attempt to “stay on the map” when it replaces its prestigious Lake Macquarie Amateur with a new pro-am in October.

The Amateur lost its status as a national ranking event this year in what would have been its 60th running. The club had hoped to run it on a smaller scale in January, but it clashed with the Australian Amateur in Melbourne and was scrapped.

“That’s slipped into history, but we’ll try and do something to keep the club on the map,” Belmont general manager Glenn Howard told Down The Fairway.

“We’re going to have our inaugural pro-am in October, and at this stage we’re going to invite some of the ex-Lake Macquarie winners who are pros to come and play in the day if they’re in the country.”

The tournament, which forms part of the Australasian PGA Pro-Am Series, will be on Monday, October 9, with a field of 60 professionals and 180 Belmont members.

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The temperature is forecast to dip below freezing when the Newcastle and Hunter River teams travel to Goulburn for the NSW Country Championship this weekend.

Golf NSW shifted the 36-hole event from Wollongong to Goulburn last year but has now also moved it from October to August.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the overnight temperature on Sunday will fall to minus two, and organisers have pushed back the first tee times to later in the morning.

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Jason Capararo (B grade) and Will Duffy (C grade) won the major Oc Olley Cup titles on Sunday after recording the best 18-hole nett scores at Waratah and Belmont.

Capararo (Charlestown) won on a countback from Craig Wivell (Shortland Waters) after both shot nett 71s. Duffy (Horizons) won C grade by a shot with a nett 72.

Shane Beasley (Pacific Dunes) carded an 83 off the stick to win the B-grade district championship, and Ken Leo completed a double for the Medowie club with a 93 to win the C-grade district title.  

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The Australasian PGA tour resumes next week after a three-month hiatus with the $1.5 million Fiji International at Natadola Bay Golf Course.

Hunter pros Jake Higginbottom, Aaron Townsend, James Nitties, Nathan Green and Callan O’Reilly are confirmed starters, while Leigh McKechnie, Ed Stedman, Jamie Hook, Joe Darcy and Clayton Bridges are on the reserves list. 

Higginbottom was in the hunt at Natadola Bay last year before a third-round 79 ruined his chances. He rebounded with a 68 on the final day to finish in a tie for seventh. 

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Muswellbrook’s Nathan Waters won the Seaside Classic on Sunday after backing up his first-round 70 with a one-over 72 in windy conditions at Port Macquarie.

Waters won by five shots from Sydney golfer Zac Mullins.

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Dylan Perry tuned up for the US Amateur with another strong performance at the Western Amateur in Chicago.

The Vintage player and British Amateur runner-up tied for ninth in the stroke-play qualifying after rounds of 68-67-72-68 at Skokie Country Club, the site of the 1922 US Open, then lost 5&4 to Kiwi Nick Voke in the first match-play round.

Charlestown’s Blake Windred had a rare two bad days at the office, missing the stroke-play cut after shooting 76 and 75.

The US Amateur starts on Monday at Riviera Country Club and Bel Air Country Club in California with two rounds of qualifying stroke play before the round-of-64 match play on Wednesday.

Perry will try to emulate compatriot Curtis Luck, who claimed last year’s 36-hole match-play final after winning eight consecutive holes in the afternoon session.

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The Men of League Foundation Port Stephens branch is celebrating a successful golf weekend at Nelson Bay.

The 18-hole competition attracted 168 players, including former pro Nikki Garrett (now Barrett).

Former Knight Ryan Stig, who received support from the foundation when he was diagnosed with Lyme disease five years ago, was a special guest at the event, which included a fundraising dinner on Saturday night at the recently reopened Nelson Bay clubhouse.

David “Cement” Gillespie and the foundation’s national wellbeing manager, Ben Ross, were also on hand.

The team of Stig, Ray Newton, Greg Skape and Mark Barden won Sunday’s main prize, the Ross Gigg Memorial Shield.

Gigg, a former Penrith Panthers winger who died in 2014, was a long-time chief executive of Newcastle Harness Racing Club and the inaugural secretary of the Men of League Newcastle branch.

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