Walking Royal Sydney

I planned on arriving at 7am for the beginning of the ProAm this morning however Sydney traffic had other ideas.

I left Erskineville around 6.20am and had to drive 11kms. I didn’t arrive at the golf until 7.35am. Sydney traffic is woeful. I am adamant it has become markedly worse in the nine months I have not been here.

It would do my head in having to cross the city on a daily commute and I understand why a lot of Sydneysiders seem cranky.

I had a quick chat with Robbie from RJ Golf before I grabbed some water and headed out. I hadn’t been out on the complete course the last couple of days and wandered off with my map enjoying the cool morning air.

I watched in alarm/amusement as one of the amateurs (not the ones that have qualified to play at the event) shanked a ball that shot off his club at a right angle hitting the bag the caddy was carrying and then bounce off the pro’s head he was playing with. I took cover behind a tree as he hit another shot and headed off to catch up with Jason Norris.

I met them on the 8th and joined Norrey, Ace (his caddy) and the amateurs, Dean, Wayne and Greg. Dean plays out of Wyong and Wayne and Greg are members at Lynwood Country Club.

It was great being inside the ropes and walking the course to see the conditions the players will be competing in. The greens are fast and so difficult to read. As in any tournament they are cut short but there are tiered levels and undulations on them that make it very difficult to putt. As I said to Norrey, it should be hard considering the level of competition.

I also find that when there are grid lines from the mowers it makes it a little more difficult to read the line of the putt as it can be a little disconcerting and I find myself second guessing the first read. Lucky I am not playing I guess.

The group did well and improved the longer they played. As I was strolling out there with them I offered to snap some photos to email to them all as when will they next get an opportunity to play on a course prepared for such an event?

As we played through the 18th we were met by Paul (a friend of Norrey and Ace who is caddying for Ryan Carter this week) and he joined us for the last three holes. We chatted most of the time, watching Dean play a fantastic 1st hole dropping his birdie putt after his chip earned him applause from the spectators.

I had a good golf chat with all of the crew and post round I got email addresses to send them photos, said my good byes and headed back to the media centre.

It was perfect timing as the press conference with Adam Scott was about to start.

Adam confirmed after a good start to his year that he was disappointed to not continue winning and keep the momentum going. He likes Royal Sydney very much and was in town last week to play a few rounds.

He would like to win at Royal Sydney after what happened a few years ago on the 18th hole when he made an error and Rory won the tournament. It is a good motivator for him to get out and try and do it all again but this year take the trophy.

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As Adam left the building a few people asked for photos however I spotted the young gun amateurs – Curtis Luck, Harrison Endycott and Brett Coletta – and photographed them instead.

I had a quick chat with Coletta as we headed into the media centre for their press conference. It was fascinating listening to these mature 20 year olds discuss their calculated plans of turning pro, their year of golf, their drive and playing against their idol Adam Scott.

Adam did say he would be happy to play with all of them and give them any advice they might seek but he didn’t want to mess up their game (and they certainly have that) but also didn’t want them to beat him.

These three amateurs are hungry for more and I think they will play riskier golf as they have nothing to lose and I am excited to watch them tee it up tomorrow.

Following the media conference, I grabbed some lunch then headed to the driving range.

I spotted Norrey carrying his own bag as Ace was off on a mission and we strolled across the putting green to the range as Norrey called out to his competitors.

I love the camaraderie between the players and the jesting and general vibe. Tomorrow they will be more focused but today they were relaxed and preparing for the competition.

As Norrey headed off to find a spot on the range I got chatting with Adam from Callaway. We had a great chat about golf, travel and juniors then the security guard called out to Adam and asked if he could help, gesturing to a group of children behind the fence looking expectantly at the backs of the players.

I looked up and Nabil Abdul, a young pro I met last year, happened to be walking by. I grabbed him and introduced him exactly how I was introduced to him last year – as the best beatboxer on the tour. I asked him to do a little something something for the children. He did exactly that and and the kids were delighted. As he went to walk away I asked him if he could sign some things for the kids who were holding markers hopefully.

They had just come from a meet and greet with Adam Scott and they added to his signature.

Norrey and Ace were nearby and were chatting to another golfer and as Adam grabbed me a water I asked Norrey if he could chat to the kids when he was done. He told me he was all over it and did exactly that.

The kids and parents asked questions while Norrey signed their shirts and books and entertained them with some stories.

I received a phone call from Kurt Linde, the General Manager of Golf Operations at Pacific Dunes. I stepped to the edge of the range and chatted, planning to meet up on Monday as I will be in Newcastle. I told him about my golf journey, website and what I am now doing with Fairways.

As I was leaving I stopped and chatted with Nick Cullen. We caught up on the last year when I met him at the Australian Open. He teased me asking if I was still golfing and eating my way around the world and I told him I kind of am but am now running a nonprofit sponsoring underprivileged junior golfers all over the world.

I think I might have impressed him a little.

I left him to get back to his practice and headed back to the media centre.

I chatted to Audrey and Leesa  (the awesome women who help Kathie control the operations of the media centre), did a little work and finished up for the day.

I hope it doesn’t take over an hour to drive 11kms tomorrow.

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