NSW Open – The Beginning

I have spent the better part of two days hanging out at Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club watching the preparations of the NSW Open.

It has been hot and while there is rain predicted later in the week it is also meant to get hotter.

I have just commandeered an umbrella for shelter from the rain and the sun.

I arrived mid morning yesterday and got chatting to Lee who was checking in the players for the tournament.

Mitsie Kent from Golf NSW arrived not long after and I picked up my accreditation and we had a good golf chat.

I set up my laptop and caught up on some of the emails for my Fairways launch.

David Tease from Golf NSW (Media and Digital Manager) joined us and I introduced myself.

As David headed out to snap some photos, I decided to go and have a bit of an explore of the course and check out the clubhouse.

I got chatting with a gentleman delivering boxes on my way to the clubhouse and it turned out to be Craig Scott, CEO of Stonecutters Ridge GC. We spoke about the course, the preparations, our golf stories and snakes.

Lots of snakes on the course – the signs aren’t just for show. David told me the black ones usually slither away but the brown ones can get a little aggressive.

Did I mention I am terrified of snakes?

This news did not delight me.

We said our goodbyes and I headed off to the club house.

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I then got chatting with another guy standing outside the pro shop who turned out to be Kim the tournament chiropractor who I met at the Emirates Australian Open last year. At a Sydney FC football match to be precise, that I had been invited to (I may have invited myself) with Jason Norris and his caddy Rod Butchers.

We caught up while I admired a gorilla club cover – I had club cover envy.

Graeme Scott (Tournament Operations Manager of PGA Australia) joined us and as Kim and Graeme started chatting, I wandered off to watch some guys practice putting and teeing off the 1st.

I watched the gorilla arrive and Jack Newton jumped out of the cart. I overheard him saying that when he started Jack Newton Junior Golf (who I work for actually teaching golf in schools) the ratio of boys to girls was 4 to 1 and it is now 7 to 1. I didn’t think I heard right and asked him if that was what he was saying.

We had a chat about junior golf and strategies to increase junior female participation in Australia and as he shot off to play some of the course, I headed back to the media centre.

I worked for a couple more hours then sent a tweet to Rod Butchers (Jason Norris’ caddy) and said I am leaving shortly and would see them tomorrow. After hitting send, I looked up as he and Jason walked in to register.

While Jason picked up his passes, Rod and I caught up on our travels as we have both been out of the country for more than six months. Instead of leaving I joined them and headed off to the clubhouse.

I strolled the course with them as Jason checked out the front nine, playing around with his 3 iron. I was wary about snakes and was ensuring one of them walked in front of me at all times.

Norrey can certainly whack a ball and I am always amazed watching elite golfers swing effortlessly and smoke the ball for miles.

As Norrey, Rod and I had a golf chat and baked in the sun, a group of young golfers caught up to us with one of the Golf Australia coaches (I think Martin if my memory is correct) .

I introduced myself and got chatting to Brett Colletta, Zac Murray and Zac’s caddy Oscar. I asked them their golf story, when they started, who golfs in their family and where in the world they have golfed.

Turns out I may have golfed more courses than them.

They both currently have amateur status however Brett may turn pro within the next year. Brett won the QLD Open a couple of weeks ago and after watching him casually chip in numerous times, I think the guy has game.

Who am I kidding? Anyone who qualifies to play here has game. It will just depend on who can best put it all together the best during the four days of play.

I had a bit of a putt with Norrey’s putter and as the rest of the guys headed off Rod, Norrey and I had a putt off.

We were coming down the 7th fairway when we realised it was 5.45pm. Jason and Rod had a function at 6pm and I had to get my stuff from the media centre and head home.

The media centre (which is located in the neighbourhood centre) was locked up tight. I peeked in the window and all my stuff was exactly where I left it but not much else was left there.

I went to the clubhouse and was a little perplexed to see Craig who said they don’t have a key. I explained my dilemma and was led to Stuart Fraser who thankfully had a key. I grabbed my gear and as I returned the key I thanked Stuart profusely.

Stuart asked me what media outlet I was with and I told him about my two year golf history, Fairway Foodie and in turn, Fairways. I then questioned him. I probably should have known who the CEO of Golf NSW is but as always, I am happy to admit my lack of knowledge and learn as I go.

This theory has worked for me thus far.

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When I arrived around midday this morning the first person I saw in the media centre was Stuart so we had a bit of a chat before I sat with Mitsie and set up my computer.

I headed out for a little walk and had a quick chat with Norrey and Rod before they went off to practice and I then caught up with Matt Dowling from Acushnet and chatted to him and Dane while he gave out goodies to the golfers.

I had some great golf chats with quite a few of the boys who came up to get marked by the various sponsors, be it Titleist or Srixon.

Matt delighted me and got a hug for his trouble when he gave me a bag of ProV1’s for our launch. We had previously been in discussions and I had arranged to purchase four dozen balls but very happily received the balls to add to our prizes for the 28th.

I talked snakes with one of the golfers who saw a black snake between the 4th and 5th holes today. Needless to say I am not upset that there is no course access for spectators around that area for the duration of the tournament.

Tomorrow there is both a pro am and a junior pro am.

I look forward to chatting to some of the juniors who are playing and finding out their golf story.

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