Golf and whisky – a match made in heaven

Reon Weir, whose traditional Scottish attire won him the award for best dressed golfer.

By Peter Owen

It started modestly – a few Noosa Springs members getting together two decades ago, thinking it would be a good idea to play a round of golf for a bottle of Scotch whisky.

And they’d all have a wee dram of the good stuff before they teed off – just to get them ready for the game.

It was indeed a good idea – so good that, 22 years later, it’s still going strong.

Just before Christmas, 80 whisky-loving golfers teed it up at Noosa Springs for this year’s event, and nearly 90 attended the presentation lunch which followed.

And, while the previous year’s winner traditionally supplied two bottles of fine single malt whisky so everybody could have a heart starter before playing, for the past few years William Grant & Sons, producer of Glenfiddich, the world’s leading single malt whisky, has come to the rescue.

A bottle of 21-year-old Glenfiddich, worth about $270, goes to the winner, and the whisky flows freely at the luncheon. And, of course, everybody still knocks back a wee dram before teeing off.

Jeff Barrett, who’s been a regular competitor for the past 18 years and is now one of the organisers, said Glenfiddich Day grows each year.

“This year the field contained Noosa Springs’ members, family and friends,” he said.

“It’s for everybody who loves a bit of fun and enjoys a good single malt.”

For the record, the winner was Ian Lemmey, who tallied 38 stableford points and won on a countback from Hartmut Schlichting. Jeff Barrett did okay as well, his 37 points good enough for a tie for third with three other golfers.

Golf’s a tonic for Cooroy’s Terry Magill

When Terry Magill is asked about the benefits of playing golf, he lists exercise, socialising, character development, and the glorious challenge of continually searching for improvement.

Then he adds another – something personal; something he says has changed his life since he rediscovered the game a few years ago.

For Terry, an Irishman who’s called Australia home for 40 years and has successfully fought through bouts of depression and a cancer scare, golf is therapeutic.

He speaks of the healing effects of his twice-weekly rounds at Cooroy, and the pleasure he gets from playing with a group of mates whose company he enjoys as much as sinking a putt for a birdie.

“I don’t know where I’d be without golf and the wonderful friends I’ve made through it,” said Terry, who joined Cooroy five years ago, after relocating from Mackay.

He plays most Saturdays, and rarely misses a game with the veterans on Wednesdays.

Indeed, Terry was 2021’s veteran stableford player of the year– his 10 best rounds realising a combined points total of 365, and a three point victory over Gary Menyweather.

It’s a competition that rewards consistency and durability over the year, and is highly regarded by Cooroy members.

Terry had never even held a golf club when he left Ireland in 1981, having fallen in love with an Australian girl whom he married and settled down with in Mackay.

The marriage didn’t last and, after 20 years, Terry relocated to the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

“I’d developed depression and I badly needed a change,” he said. “I started a new life here. Moving was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

He’d taken up golf in Mackay, even joined the Mackay Golf Club. But he’d been living in the Noosa hinterland for several years before he even thought about the game.

“A few friends played golf socially and asked me to join them at Cooroy,” he said. “I played social golf for a year or so, then joined the club and started playing competitions.”

Terry plays off a handicap of 10, and says he’s never been happier or more content than right now.

He speaks of his gratitude to fellow members Grant Smallacombe and Jim Henderson for the work they do promoting veterans golf, and of his playing partners who, he says, have helped change his life.

Noosa Springs pro heads home to NZ

Popular Noosa Springs teaching professional Hamish Robertson has accepted the position of head pro at Taupo Golf Club, and will take up the role as soon as he can arrange flights to New Zealand.

Robertson has been a key member of Peter Heiniger’s team of coaches at Noosa Springs for the past four years.

Born and raised in New Zealand, he started playing golf at the age of 11. After a distinguished amateur career, highlighted by a runner up position in New Zealand’s national amateur title in 2003, Robertson played the Australasian PGA circuit for nine years, winning five tournaments and placing second in the WA PGA Championship and Tahiti Open.

In 2018, he won the Queensland division of the PGA Professionals Championship before competing in the national final at Hamilton Island.

During the past week, Robertson has been honing his game in a series of club competitions at Noosa Springs, playing with some of the clients he’s mentored over the years.

And he’s done well.

On Boxing Day he scored 35 stableford points to lose on a countback, on Wednesday he tallied 39 points to be runner-up, and the following day, using a new left-hand-low putting grip, he scored 37 points to be third.

“I was just trying to get my game in shape before taking up my new job,” he said.

Robertson vows he’ll be back on the Sunshine Coast in a few years.

“We love it here and we have friends and family on the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“We wanted our children to experience life in New Zealand before coming back here for them to attend school.”

Peregian coach is Australia’s best

Peregian-based Dom Azzopardi, the coach of outstanding golfer Lucas Herbert who won events last year on both the European and USPGA tours, has been named Australian Golf Digest’s 2021 Coach of the Year.

The Player of the Year awards are an annual feature of the golf magazine’s January issue, and the excellent global performances of Australia’s top male and female players made Coach of the Year one of the most hotly contested categories.

Azzopardi, who has made his home on the Sunshine Coast for several years, first linked up with Herbert in country Victoria, when the rising star was in his early teens.

After he made the move to Peregian, Herbert followed, basing himself on the Sunshine Coast for much of 2020. Last year he moved to Florida as he set his sights on earning playing privileges on the rich US tour.

A winner on the European Tour for a second time at the Irish Open in July, Herbert tied for fourth at the first event of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to effectively seal his promotion to the PGA Tour.

He missed the cut in each of his first two starts as a full member of the PGA Tour but when Azzopardi answered the call for help and flew to the US to take a closer look at Herbert’s swing the results were instant, Herbert coming from four shots back to win the Bermuda Championship in November.

Another Sunshine Coast-based coach, Pelican Waters-based Grant Field, figured prominently in Coach of the Year voting.

Field took Cameron Smith to the top 20 in the world, got Australian Amateur champion Louis Dobbelaar ready to join the professional ranks and helped Andre Stolz become the dominant force on the Legends Tour.

For his efforts, Herbert was named Male Player of the Year, while first year associate Lachlan Aylen (Eynesbury Golf Club) was named PGA Associate Player of the Year.

Club competitions


Sunday 26 December

Men’s stableford: Phil Harrison 35c/b, Hamish Robertson 35, Ray Brown 32.

Wednesday 29 December

Men’s stableford: Darryl Dent 40, Hamish Robertson 39, Alan Carter 36; women’s: Fran McLaughlin 38, Berenice Holmes 36, Annie Emmerson 34c/b.

Thursday 30 December

Men’s stableford: Tony Carabetta 38c/b, Gus Torney 38, Hamish Robertson 37; women’s: Sue Jackson 33, Elizabeth Wadsworth 31, Dana Angus 24.

Friday 31 December

Men’s stableford: Allan Carter 34, Joshua Barker 33, Douglas Oates 31c/b.

Saturday 1 January

Men’s stableford: Jock Robertson 37, Chris Wilson 36, Andrew Tregaskis 35c/b.

Sunday 2 January

Men’s Sunday Series, stableford: Ray Brown 40, Charlie Larsen 36, Michael Hitchcock 35c/b; women’s: Dianna Goss 34, Jen Carr 32, Panita Pearce 31c/b.