Lake Karrinyup ended their 64-year wait to claim a men’s Division One pennants title on Sunday, although, it was three short years ago that the seeds were first sewn for their long-awaited success.
It was a conversation between captain Nick Curnow and Stephen Moloney during their Division Two final defeat, ironically at Royal Perth, three years ago that set the wheels in motion.
Curnow, the WA State team captain a couple of years ago, suggested that Moloney – his then caddie – should take a more significant role and help him build a high performance programme to drag Lake Karrinyup out of a malaise that had seen the club marooned outside the top-flight since 1997.
A former Hawthorn draftee Moloney accepted the challenge and set about establishing a programme, with the support of the club, to give pennants golf a more significant place at Lake Karrinyup.
The results have been immediate with promotion from Division Two achieved last season before the Sunday’s upset 4-3 win over Royal Perth at Hartfield Golf Club.
“It is enormous for the club because there are a lot of people who have put a lot of time and effort into the pennants team – from presidents who have seen a lot of members go past without any great success,” Moloney said.
“To put it into context there is just one member still alive from our last victory. Even this morning we pointed out to three of the players that their combined age didn’t even add up to him.”
Pat Prendiville is the surviving member of that 1953 team – at the age of 94 – when Lake Karrinyup defeated Cottesloe by the same 4-3 margin.
The many years that have passed without success for Lake Karrinyup since are perhaps surprising for a club of its grandeur and Moloney admitted changing the culture within the club was critical to the transformation he helped to instigate.
“When I joined the club eight years ago I was shocked it had only won one Division One men’s title,” Moloney said.
“Changing that started from that day when I caddied Nick for the first time.
“We talked in that round of that final about how we wanted to drive this high performance but he didn’t know how to do it. He asked if I would get on board to help out and set up that structure to help golfers be the best they can be.
“We saw that as a great way to be competitive against the state’s best golfers. The support from the club to enable that to happen was critical and from there it was about allowing these boys to understand that golf can take a lot of turns.”
Five of Lake Karrinyup’s seven-man team on Sunday were aged under 22 with Matt Bowra – who confirmed the breakthrough win with a 3&1 victory – Travis Temm, Joe Owen, Alex Allcock and Simon Liddell all having progressed through the club’s junior programme under Peter McCabe.
With good young players already at the club Moloney set about providing a structure that has allowed them to blossom.
“What we did in the first year we set up a squad – they’ve never done that before,” he said.
“Each division had been isolated so the first thing I said was Division Two and Division Four – we come together as one squad and we picked the squad so only those players could represent Division Two and Four as it was then.
“We presented them with a uniform so that they were recognised around the club as pennant players.
“Having the engagement from the club to do these things was critical and then identify the players who were prepared to do that little bit extra in terms of preparation and training.
“They also really needed to want to achieve something.
“They key has been it’s not just about us winning Division One – the Division Four team have made their third or fourth year of making the final, they have kept pushing guys to be better.
“Jon Clancy filled in last week because we had a couple of late withdrawals and he won his match which got us here.
“He was unlucky not to play today but it’s not just that – it’s guys like Nick Vogel who is a club champion who has played seven or eight years at the club and they’ve driven this whole culture.
“When we started we felt being the best golf course in WA, that we should have a Division One team and that we should really take pride in that. From there that would drive what we were trying to achieve.
“So this is an enormous win for the whole club. Like I say for everyone who has put so much into this club over the years to get us to this point.”
The strength of Lake Karrinyup’s line-up was critical to victory on a Hartfield layout in superb nick, despite heavy rain through the week, as four of the first five players out got the wins they required.
Kristian Mitchell chalked up their first win after Royal Perth – who had been chasing a record-equalling 22nd top-flight title – had gone 2-0 up thanks to big wins for Yanni Keenan (8&7) and Michael Dennis (10&8).
But Lake Karrinyup had been holding sway where it counted elsewhere and Liddell stepped up a gear late to win 5&4 while Curnow completed a dominant display against this year’s men’s WA Amateur Championship runner-up Adam Hatch 5&3.
With Junior Presidents Cup hopeful Fred Lee in control in the final match against Joe Owen, which he would win 3&1, the spotlight turned to the match between Bowra and Chris Mun, as the Lake Karrinyup youngster held his nerve as a close encounter went down to the 35th green.
It’s a big responsibility after 64 years,” Curnow joked after taking the stage to accept the winner’s pennant and shield.
“We’ve got five players who are 22 years old or under. It really is a massive effort and the dedication and sacrifice that they’ve shown throughout the pennants season and the weeks leading up to the season has been a huge effort.
“We’ve seen these guys develop over the last five years into great players and people.
“Also to Steve Moloney our pennant manager – Steve is our heartbeat.
“Steve’s dedication to high performance in all areas of his life is something that has a huge influence both on me and the whole team.
“He lives his values and he’s an amazing example to all the players in the team.”
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