Ray’s golfing comeback pays dividends

Ray and Lisa Brown in festive garb during a pre-Christmas round at Noosa Springs.

By Peter Owen

When his days as a rugby league player caught up with him, and he was forced to endure a spinal fusion operation to repair the damage, doctors told Ray Brown he should never play golf again.

For 25 years he kept the pledge, devoting most of that time to forging an astonishing career in Queensland local government, including eight years as mayor of the Western Downs Council.

But when he retired last year and moved to Noosa, Ray Brown thought his abstinence from golf had gone on long enough, and it was time to dust off his clubs and focus on resurrecting his game.

He joined Noosa Springs, took a few lessons with teaching pro Hamish Robertson and, with the luxury of a generous handicap of 36, began to play two or three times a week.

His earlier injury restricted him from fully turning his body in the golf swing, but he persevered, focused on his ability to consistently hit a long ball, and gradually improved his game.

Last week the results started coming.

Playing with a visiting friend, he scored 40 points to win the Sunday Series competition, scored 33 points in the Monday comp, then followed up with 43 points to win the Tuesday competition.

“I can’t remember the last time I played golf three days in a row, but it was great fun,” he said.

Now, Ray Brown – his handicap happily cut from 31 to 27 in just a few days – is looking forward to each day’s golf, believing that pretty much anything is possible.

“Golf’s changed my life,” he said.

“I play regularly with friends who live nearby and we have a great time.

“We play at Cooroy, Noosa, Peregian and, of course, at Noosa Springs, and I enjoy every minute of it.”

Before retiring to Noosa Waters, Ray was an important figure in Queensland local government for more than 25 years.

He was mayor of the Western Downs for eight years from 2008, identified new technology to be used within the coal seam gas and agricultural sectors, and was the first chair of the Western Downs Housing Trust. He was awarded an OAM for his service to local government and the community.

Now, though, his focus is on improving his golf game – particularly his chipping and putting – and introducing his wife Lisa to the game.

When Covid allows, he’s also keen to provide voluntary advice and assistance to Aboriginal councils within Queensland.

So close for Mt Coolum pro

Mt Coolum professional TJ King delivered his best performance as a professional golfer when he shot rounds of 68 and 70 to be outright second in the PGA Professionals Championship at Hope Island late last week.

King had qualified for the final, which would have been played at Hamilton Island in October if not for Covid restrictions, by winning the North Queensland qualifier at Mackay earlier in the year.

The winner and runner-up of the national championship earned places in this week’s Australian PGA at Royal Brisbane Golf Club, but King had already qualified because of his results in trainee tournaments, allowing Matthew Guyatt, the assistant professional at Nudgee, to make his way into the big event.

The $30,000 PGA Professionals Championship was won by NSW’s Jamie Hook.

Jaxon’s on the improve

Promising Noosa junior Jaxon Smith shot a solid 84 to be runner-up in Division 2 of the inaugural Grant Field Junior Classic, played at Caloundra last Thursday.

Young Jaxon is one of the most improved members of the Invincibles Sunshine Coast Junior Golf Tour, and seems set for an outstanding 2022.

The Grant Field Junior Classic, a new event for junior golfers, was intended to be a 36-hole tournament, played at Caloundra and Pelican Waters.

But because of renovations being carried out at Pelican Waters, the inaugural event was confined to just 18 holes at Caloundra.

It was won by Anthony Mannion (Indooroopilly) and Maroochy River’s Ionna Muir, who shot rounds of 73 and 75.

Grant Field, the tournament founder and coach of international superstar Cameron Smith, said his plan was to build the event into a 54-hole championship.

“I feel that would be a great platform for our juniors to experience the longer version and championship conditions of the game,” he said.

Round of golf for $16

It must be the best value social golf on the Sunshine Coast. Cooroy Golf Club is offering an afternoon round of golf during the holiday season for just $16.

The price is valid for nine holes or 18 holes, but you must hit off after 2.30pm and book in advance.

Also, during the holidays, two players can play a round of golf on Tuesdays or Sundays in a motorised cart for a total of $90.

Strong Coast challenge in PGA championship

Peregian’s Cassie Porter will make her debut as a professional golfer in this week’s Women’s PGA Championship at Royal Queensland – one of only 24 women in the elite field that sees men and women playing together for the first time in the event.

Cassie, 19, has been in great form in the past couple of months, winning the Keperra Bowl and finishing in the top 10 of the Women’s Asia-Pacific Championship in Abu Dhabi.

She then flew to the United States where she finished third in the Sunshine State Amateur at Mission Inn, Florida.

Also competing in the 2021 WPGA Championship will be Pelican Waters’ amateur Sarah Wilson, Caboolture’s Justice Bosio, Caloundra’s Sarah Jane Smith and former Invincibles’ member Karis Davidson.

In the men’s division, the Sunshine Coast will be represented by Shae Wools-Cobb and Charlie Dann – the Sunshine Coast’s most successful professional golfers in recent years – as well as Mt Coolum’s T. J. King and Caloundra trainee Alex ‘A. J.’ McCoy.

Wools-Cobb has been in rare form in members’ competitions at Maroochy River recently, shooting 65 in a Monday competition last week, followed by another seven-under 65 in tough conditions on Saturday.

The Australian PGA, played for years at the Hyatt Coolum in late November/early December, is expected to return to its traditional date for the 2022 event later this year.

Club competitions


Monday 3 January

Men’s stableford: Chris Wilson 42, Mike Cawsey 39, Scott McMenamin 38c/b; Judy Buss 40, Lee-Ann Hay 39, Fae Rentoul 37.

Tuesday 4 January

Men’s stableford: Ray Brown 43, Phillip Fortington 41, Josh Constable 39; women’s: Katrina Taylor 29c/b, Elizabeth Wadsworth 29.

Wednesday 5 January

Men’s stableford: Evan Wulff 39, Paul Grant 38, Kevin Perkins 37; women’s: Narelle Magner 40, Rowena Faerch 35c/b, Dee Pugh 35.

Sunday 9 January

Men’s Sunday Series, stableford: Finn Boyle 42, Angus Thomson 40, James Boyle 37; women’s: Tracey Carter 37, Toni Liddy 32, Silvana Phillips 31.