World-leading pros and Australia’s next generation of stars will soon unite in a unique series of tournaments as they prepare to break free from the global pandemic.
The State Challenge – a joint initiative by Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and the ALPG – will give professionals and amateurs a chance to shake off any tournament rust before taking on the world in post-Covid-19 events.
Champion professionals Hannah Green, Su Oh and Matt Griffin are among the athletes who have flagged their intention to play the State Challenge.
And they’ll get to play on some of Australia’s greatest championship courses with Royal Melbourne (East and West), Victoria, Pelican Waters, Brisbane, Coolangatta Tweed Heads, Glenelg, Grange, Royal Adelaide, Lake Karrinyup, West Australian and Royal Perth golf clubs already having committed to playing their part as co-hosts.
Participating states (Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia) will each host three 36-hole stroke play events for fields comprising nine professionals and nine amateurs (12 men and 6 women). The New South Wales events will only feature professionals.
Prize pools will be determined from income received from player entries and amateurs will receive prizes in line with R&A amateur status requirements.
Events are planned for July 13, 20 and 27, with an eventual 108-hole champion determined in each state.
The PGA’s tour development manager Kim Felton said it was the perfect opportunity for all athletes involved to find their competitive groove after months away from tournament golf.
“The pandemic has obviously limited playing opportunities, so this is a perfect way to compete in that high-pressure tournament situation through their own investment, play with each state’s best amateurs and help get them ready for when they do get back out around the world to restart,” Felton said.
Golf Australia’s high performance general manager Brad James said the interest the plan had generated showed the increasing bond between the current heroes and those who aspire to their heights.
“When we can get together like this, it really helps bolster that vital connection and engagement between our current and future stars,” James said.
“It’s really exciting to see everyone we’ve mentioned it to commit so readily. You can really feel a unified wave of momentum building to showcase golf and its champions, right around Australia.”
ALPG Chief Executive Officer Karen Lunn echoed the comments of Felton and James.
“I know that as an elite golfer you need competition at the highest level to keep the competitive juices flowing and also to act as a yardstick as to how your practice and preparations are going. Playing with your friends is one thing but playing against your peers with a scorecard in your hand is the closet thing you can get to replicating tournament pressure." said Lunn
"This also takes the mentoring between the professionals and our leading amateurs, which happens organically through our tournament season, to another level. The relationships created by these kind of opportunities will be vital to the our elite amateurs when they take the next step into the professional ranks."