MICKEY D, THE KING OF SAND
Michael Dennis of Royal Perth Golf Club racked up his sixth Drummond Golf State Sand Green Championship this weekend at Katanning Country Club.
197 golfers made the trip to Katanning Country Club, with 79 golf clubs represented from around Western Australia.
It was a vintage Dennis performance over the two days, shooting 69 and 68 to finish at 7-under for a six stroke victory over runner-up and last year’s champion, Adam Davey of Busselton.
Dennis lost to Davey last year at Wongan Hills a playoff, but in 2014 he left the Championship in no doubt. Dennis held a two stroke lead at the start of the second round, but raced out of the blocks early with a birdie on the second and the fifth holes while Davey succumbed to back to back bogeys on the third and fourth.
Davey narrowed the deficit with birdies on seven and eight to get back to even par for the day and limit Dennis’ lead to four at the turn.
The hole of the tournament was arguably the par-5 12th, where the top two really upped their games and Davey made a move that could have turned the tournament on its head.
Dennis hit his drive right into the trees where his ball fell in the clear about 100m short of Davey’s drive on the left. Davey was in his own spot of trouble just off the left edge of the fairway with no view of the green thanks to the hole curving to the left and out of sight.
Despite having little room to work with Davey hit what was the shot of the tournament, a lovely draw over the trees to land on the green just 15ft from the pin where Dennis faced a similar putt for birdie.
Not to be outdone, Dennis put the pressure on Davey sinking his putt to the delight of the gallery while Davey left his eagle chance agonisingly short of the hole.
“I was just trying to be consistent and play him out of it so to speak, “said Dennis after his round. “You can never count out Adam, he’ll make for or five birdies and an eagle like that and then it’s all over!”
After the 12th Dennis was never troubled, and the Royal Perth member was delighted to be crowned Champion again and get his name back on the coveted shield.
“It’s my favourite of the year just because of the comradery of the fellas who come here. I grew up on the sand greens in Augusta, which is as far south as you can go. We hosted the Sand Greens in 1992 I think. They were oil greens and still are.”
Katanning Country Club was presented beautifully over the weekend, with clear and cool days giving perfect golfing conditions over the Championship Weekend.
Katanning’s course has recently had a facelift, moving from oil sand greens to compacted sand that is watered to keep its consistency. Dennis, the greenskeeper at Royal Perth, was full of praise for the setup and its welcoming members..
“I think these greens are as good as we’ve played on, probably since Bridgetown in 2003. On sand it’s a bit harder to play than grass. On some holes you have to run it on and some it might stop well short. It’s inconsistent as some times you’ll land on and shoot off and some will stop well short, so you have to patient and take it as it comes.”
“It’s a great weekend and it’s why I keep coming back! Katanning put on a really good show so Northam really have their work cut out for them!”
Northam will host the event next year, with Mount Barker Golf Club being announced this evening as the host of the prestigious event in 2016.
Of the locals, Francois Van Zyl had Katanning’s best result at 10-over par in a tie for 14th place and winning the best first round prize with a score of 70. Francois was a part of the winning Thursday’s Super Scroungers competition with fellow local Nigel Aitken.
Rob Gearine of Merriden took out the best nett prize with a 68 and 66 over the two rounds and Brian Carter of Gingin won the Veterans competition. Gilliam Jones of Mukinbudin won the Closed Gross Competition, with the best overall score out of the Sand Green Clubs at 1-over par and in 3rd place overall.
1st Michael Dennis (RPGC). 2nd Adam Davey (Busselton). 3rd Andrew Monk (RPGC). 4th Tim Gilotti (Bunbury). 5th Carl Naake (Goldfields). Closed WInner, Gilliam Jones (Mukinbudin) & finished 3rd overall. Best 1st Round, Francis Van Zyl (Katanning). Best 2nd Round, Matt Morris (Merriden)
1st Rob Gearine (Merriden). 2nd Terry Paini (Dandaragan). 3rd Aaron McAuliffe (Narrogin). 4th Michael Kowald (Katanning). 5th Aiden Broun (Corrogin). Best 1st Round, David Gale (Mandurah). Best 2nd Round, Chris Schell (Goomalling).
DAY 1 REPORT – DENNIS LEADS
Five time champion Michael Dennis shot 69 to lead the Drummond Golf State Sand Greens by two strokes after Round 1 at Katanning Country Club.
Dennis’ nearest rival is defending champion Adam Davey of Busselton, who is two back after shooting a round of 71 that featured four birdies.
Dennis also managed four birdies, but his lone bogey on the par-3 11th has kept the Royal Perth’s course superintendent at the top of the leaderboard.
Both Dennis and Davey started their rounds with birdies but in vastly different circumstances. Dennis hit the flag on his approach to 10 and the ball dropped inches from the hole. Davey was errant off the tee and hit a provision, only to find his ball and recover well.
Dennis and Davey sit well ahead a pack seven on +2 and +3 featuring Katanning local Francois Van Zyl and Waroona’s Michael Stirk.
Tomorrow’s round will commence from 7am with the lead group teeing off at 12:15 from the first.
The Drummond Golf State Sand Green Championships head to Katanning Country Club this weekend for the second time in the event’s history, in a celebration of the many unique golf courses Western Australia has to offer.
Despite having a proud history, Katanning isn’t a club to dwell for too long on its past. Thanks to recent refurbishments of its greens and a reticulation project in alliance with the Water Corporation, Katanning is a club that provides lush green fairways and bunkers you would expect nearer to the coast, with a modern type of sand green that plays more consistent and true like that of a grass green.
192 golfers from 79 golf clubs from around the state will take part in the championships. The event will have a predominantly country feel with 72 Western Australian country clubs being represented at the Championships.
Sand green golf courses may not be commonly found around the world, but in Western Australia they are a majority. 141 of Golf Western Australia’s registered golf clubs play on Sand Green Courses, where lower water and maintenance requirements make it an ideal solution to a drier climate.
Royal Perth golf course superintendent and WA State Team captain Michael Dennis may be very familiar with the grass green layout, but as a five-time State Sand Green champion, he will be heading into this tournament as one of the favourites. In 2013, Dennis finished as a runner-up to defending champion Adam Davey of Manjimup. Davey won his third Sand Greens title in 2013 and ended a five year winless drought for the country Western Australia in the event.
Bunbury’s Danny Ennor will be looking to finally get his name on the coveted shield. As a nine time winner of the Country Strokeplay Championships, Ennor has shown himself to be one of the best golfers from country Western Australia.
From the locals, expect to see Craig Leckie of Katanning making a move on the title. Leckie last won the event in 1991 and in 1988, the last time the Championships were held in Katanning. As one of Katanning best club golfers, Leckie’s local knowledge and familiarity with the course will make him one of the favourites over the weekend.