By Peter Owen
Mally Jane’s eyesight had become so poor she just couldn’t see the hole. Three putts were normal and if she tallied only 45 putts in a round she figured she’d done pretty well.
She had a detached retina in the right eye – a condition she was told was hereditary – and a cataract on the left. It was all so discouraging that Mally even considered giving up a game she had come to love.
But then she met Dr Ben Fleming, a specialist she describes as her ‘miracle man’.In an operation that took place in the last week of July, Dr Fleming removed the cataract and, in Mally’s words, ‘tidied up what he could’.
“There wasn’t much anybody could do with the right eye,” Mally said. “But, hey, you only need one good eye to putt.”
Mally’s handicap had drifted out to the mid-20s – an embarrassing benchmark for a person who once played off 13.8 and took pride in her golf game.
The eye operation halted the slide. The result was dramatic and instantaneous. Mally could see again.
And the difference was immediately reflected in her performance on the golf course.
At Noosa Springs, where she has been a member for the past three years, Mally won this month’s Monthly Medal, navigating the course in 93 strokes, which equated to a nett 68.
Two days later, and with her handicap appropriately adjusted, she won the Monday members’ stableford competition with 38 points.“It was such a relief to be playing well again,” she said. “As soon as I could see the putts I believe I was gaining nine or 10 strokes a round. My friends have started calling me a bandit”
Mally has been on the Sunshine Coast since she retired from her job in Melbourne six years ago.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” she said. “It’s so different in Noosa. The people here are beautiful and they look after each other.”
Mally didn’t start playing golf until she was in her 50s and says she took to the game like a duck to water.
When she moved here she first joined Tewantin-Noosa, where she became the ladies’ captain. A person who relishes being involved in the game, Mally is secretary of the Sunshine Coast zone district council.
She says she loves Noosa Springs. “It’s a wonderful golf course, the members are friendly and the staff are just magnificent,” she said.
Too close to call
George Giblett and Toby Harding, tied for the lead going into the final round of the Noosa club championship, will line up again tomorrow after they each shot 71 in the final round last weekend.
The two outstanding golfers played in the same group, as did third placegetter Cooper Clarke. All three shot scores of 71.
Giblett and Harding will compete in an 18-hole playoff for the title tomorrow. And on Sunday the rivals will become team-mates when they line up for Noosa in the postponed A grade pennants final to be played at Caloundra.
Peter’s passion is helping others
Perhaps it was his decade of service with the Endeavour Foundation that encouraged Cooroy golfer Peter Kennedy to join forces with former professional Marc Bright and give people with a disability the chance to blossom through the game of golf.
Each fortnight at Cooroy Marc leads a group of up to 20 aspiring golfers who live with some form of disability. He teaches them the basics of the game, encourages them to explore their skills, and uses fun, song and nature to make the experience joyful and rewarding.
With him each time is Peter Kennedy, Cooroy’s newly crowned A grade vets champion, who ran his own Noosa-based clothing manufacturing business before offering his services to Endeavour.
It was there that Peter discovered the personal reward of helping intellectually challenged people find their way in the world, learn new skills and explore new interests.
Peter fell in love with golf when he first picked up a club as an 11-year-old at his Blue Mountains home, west of Sydney. When he first came to the Sunshine Coast nearly 30 years ago he joined Tewantin-Noosa, and switched to Cooroy after he moved to Gympie.
He plays each week with the Cooroy vets and has seen his handicap drop to 7.7. But it is encouraging and mentoring disabled golfers that has become his passion.
He became aware of Marc Bright’s work after reading an advertisement in the Cooroy clubhouse.
“I thought I might be able to help and got in touch with him,” he said.
Peter is now working with the Cooroy board to introduce a new annual event – a four-ball Ambrose, with each group comprising two club members teamed with two ‘all abilities’ golfers from Bright’s amazing academy.
“The concept has been approved and we’re now working out the details,” Peter said. “Our first event will take place later in the year.”
Peter, meanwhile, is basking in the glory of last week’s vets’ triumph.
He shot matching rounds of 75 to just beat Gratham Leatherbarrow for A grade honours.The margin could have been greater.
“I was playing really well in the final round,” he said. “With seven holes to go I was two under par.
“But then negative thoughts started to play on my mind and before I knew it I’d hit a ball over the fence.”
Peter steadied, however, for a well-earned win. Ken McKay was B grade champion, while Con Russell took the C grade title, and was the overall nett champion.
Dine in style at Relish
While Noosa Springs is renowned for its world-class golf course it is also recognised for the quality of the food prepared by its head chef Aden Moriarty. Relish, the resort’s outstanding restaurant, has just introduced its spring menu, featuring new dishes such as Huon salmon, wasaki veloute, Hervey Bay half shell scallops, bok choy, wasame and toasted sesame.
Its popular lunch and dinner special has also just changed. It now features three delicious prawn dishes and sells for $26, that price including a glass of wine or beer.
Narrow win for Leith, Elaine
The team of Leith Barr and Elaine Hemman hung on to win Cooroy’s Tuesday Club two-person Ambrose championship by less than a single stroke.
The event was conducted over a fortnight, with teams playing the front nine holes on the first week, and the back nine the following week.
Leith and Elaine were first nine winners with a score of 30.5, and backed that effort up with a 36.5 on the tougher back nine.
They won the title by .75 of a point from Susie Thompson and Eve Hunt, who scored 32.5 the first week, and 35.25 for the second nine.
Coast flavour at US Open
Though it’s being played on the other side of the world, there is plenty of Sunshine Coast interest in the US Open, one of the world’s premier golf tournaments, taking place this week at Winged Foot, near New York.
The nine-strong Australian contingent includes Adam Scott, whose collection of homes throughout the world includes a beachfront mansion at Sunshine Beach.
Then there’s rising star Lucas Herbert, who lives at Marcus Beach and is coached by Peregian-based mentor Dominic Azzopardi. Like Scott, he was based on the Sunshine Coast for several months while the world’s major golf tours were in recess because of coronavirus.
Cameron Smith, who showed signs of returning to his best form while competing in the recent PGA Tour playoffs, is also prepared by a Sunshine Coast-based coach – Grant Field, from Pelican Waters.
And Scott Hend, the veteran Queenslander, is making a rare appearance in one of the world’s major championships, alongside his long-time caddy, Coolum’s Tony Carolan.
The other Aussies in the field are Jason Day, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Curtis Luck and amateur Lukas Michel. The tournament continues until Monday morning, our time.
Tickle tries again
Noosa veteran Mark Tickle, seeking any form of competition he can find while the national Legends Tour is in recess until November, lined up in the Windaroo Lakes Pro-Am last week in a field that contained a mix of touring pros, veterans and females.
It wasn’t his best effort, though, Tickle’s 10 over-par round of 82 good enough for only 36th. Yandina’s Brad Burns shot a one-over 73 to be tied ninth. Brett Rankin won the event with an excellent 67.
Kirk in the mix again
Riding a month-long wave of great form, Sunshine Beach’s Katherine Kirk came within a few strokes of taking a major championship this week on the women’s PGA Tour in California. Playing in the last group, Kirk shot a final round of one over-par par 73, to go with earlier rounds of 72, 67 and 67, in the ANA Inspiration tournament. She finished seventh – six strokes behind winner, Mirim Lee, of South Korea, who win in playoff.
Tuesday, 8 September
Men’s Tuesday Club, stableford: A grade – Karl Gottschalk 40, Rick Coneybeare 39, Allan Coey 37c/b, Peter Cossins 37; B grade – Stephen Jackson 40, Michael Kerz 37c/b, Kevin Krogh 37, Shaun Pyne 36c/b; C grade – Barrie Cooper 41, Ray Pettigrove 40, Steve Osmond 39, Michael Donnelly 37c/b. Rundown to 35c/b.Wednesday, 9 September
Vets’ stroke: A grade – Alan Meredith 68, Phillip Knight 69; B grade – John Kingston 66c/b, Graham Dacombe 66; C grade – Tom Mulligan 67, Peter Crooks 70. Rundown to 73c/b.
Thursday, 10 September
Women’s stroke: A grade – Barbara Daly 72c/b, Gwen Steel 72c/b, Karen Johnston 72; Rosemary Caffyn 69, Janine Fresstall 70, Robyn Mcmanus 71c/b; C grade – Julie Fiegl 71, Alice Daw 72, Rosanne Chisholm 73c/b. Rundown to 74.
Monday, 7 September
Men’s stableford: Scott McMenamin 45, Ian Griffiths 39, Peter Foulsham 38, Jeff Forbes 37; women’s stableford: Mally Jane 38, Jenny Langley 38, Jennifer Aitken 37, Vivien Dembo 36.Wednesday, 9 September
Men’s stableford: Andrew Tregaskis 45, Steven Troon 44, Damien Nicholson 43, James Agace 40; women’s stableford: Margaret Hart 38, Debra Oates 35, Tereza Holley 35, Vivien Dembo 34.Saturday, 12 September
Men’s stableford: Peter Kemp 39, John Betar 37, Chase Wright 37; women’s stableford: Bri Morrissey 40, Wendy Hopping 34, Tereza Holley 34.
Tuesday, 8 September
Women’s Tuesday Club, 2-person ambrose (back nine): Susie Thompson & Eve Hunt 35.25, Aileen Morton & Barb Johnstone 36.5c/b.Wednesday, 9 September
Vets, stroke: A grade – Tony Bernhagen 65, Derek Wood 69, Keith Harkins 70; B grade – Jim Bisset 71c/b, Paul Williams 71, Kevin Pickford 72; C grade – Don Esposito 68, Joe Daniels 69, Ron Ballantyne 70. Rundown to 72.Thursday, 10 September
Women’s 4-ball best ball stroke: C. Foster & A Highland 62, J. Kitcher & E. Hunt 63. Rundown to 65.