The biggest event on the Perth golfing calendar is almost upon us, with the Nexus Advisernet Bowra & O’Dea WA Open taking place at Joondalup Resort & Country Club from October 5-8.
First contested in 1913, this year marks the 99th staging of the historic championship, which has become a firmament on the PGA Tour of Australasia’s annual schedule.
The total prize purse for the 2023 WA Open is $175,000, with more than $31,000 of that awarded to the winner. The prestige of victory is just as important as the pay day, however, especially for those in the field who call WA home.
Three-time WA Open champion Kim Felton – now the PGA of Australia’s Tour Development Manager – says that the allure of winning the biggest title on home soil cannot be understated.
“You always want to win your State Open,” Felton said. “When we grow up as young kids people watch this tournament wanting to play in it. The opportunity to play with the top professionals is invaluable, really, that’s why it meant a lot to me.
“It’s still my favourite event from when I was playing because it was at home and you had the opportunity to play in front of your family and friends, on the golf courses you grew up on.”
Track record of excellence
Amongst the many celebrated winners of the WA Open are Major champions Greg Norman, Kel Nagle, Ian Baker-Finch and even Gary Player, who won the title at Mount Lawley in 1956 prior to becoming a household name and tying up the Career Grand Slam (read more about the event’s past champions here).
WA golf icon Terry Gale is a six-time winner of the championship, as is former PGA and European Tour stalwart Stephen Leaney, who won his most recent WA Open crown in 2017.
Both Gale and Leaney won the WA Open whilst still an amateur before embarking on stellar pro careers that saw them clock up 60 professional titles between them all around the world. And elite amateurs are still very much a part of the event’s fabric.
The most recent amateur winner at the WA Open was Hayden Hopewell, who recorded a sensational victory at his home club of Royal Fremantle in 2020 at the age of 19 during a three-year hot streak in the event that saw him finish no lower than 2nd between 2019-21.
Victorian amateur Zach Murray won the 2018 tournament, with WA amateurs Curtis Luck (2016) and Ollie Goss (2012) also beating the pros at their own game.
Goss went on to reach the final of the US Amateur in 2013 and earned Low Amateur honours at the US Masters a year later. Luck, meanwhile, reached number one in the World Amateur Golf Rankings a few months after his WA Open win and now plies his trade on the US Korn Ferry Tour.
With fifteen elite amateurs earning exemptions into the 2023 WA Open, and many more attempting to come through pre-qualifying, there is every chance that one or more could be in the mix over the course of the week.
The championship layout
Joondalup Resort & Country Club hosts the WA Open for the first time since 1987, with its renowned Quarry/Lake loops of nine in play during championship week.
With a club course record of 61 off the blue tees (11-under-par) and 63 off championship black tees, low scores are possible, although there’s plenty of danger to be found, particularly on the Quarry course. It’s also entirely possible that we could see a grandstand finish, with the closing hole (Lake 9) being an inviting par five that’s easily reachable in two.
With fine weather predicted for championship week and free entry for spectators, the WA Open represents one of the best opportunities of the year for golf fans to get up close to some of Australia’s top players.
The WA Open also incorporates the 36-hole All Abilities Championship for Australia’s leading golfers with a physical impairment. This is played at the same time, on the same course and in the same conditions as the WA Open, and NSW’s Cameron Pollard is the two-time defending champion.
For those unable to get there in person, the closing two rounds will be televised live on Fox Sports, Kayo and SportNZ between 1.30pm-4.30pm AWST on Saturday, October 7, and between 11.30am-4.30pm on Sunday, October 8.
Nexus Advisernet Bowra & O’Dea WA Open fact file
Format: 72-hole stroke play (plus 36-hole All Abilities Championship)
Date: October 5-8
Location: Joondalup Resort & Country Club (map here), Quarry/Lake Course
Prize money: $175,000
Defending champion: Deyen Lawson (Vic)
- View the card of the course here
- View the confirmed entries here
- View the schedule of events during championship week here
- Read about the event’s notable past champions here
- More WA Open content here