Byron Bay course ready to challenge pros
By STEVE SPINKS
FOUR-and-a-half years of hard work has finally paid off for Byron Bay Golf Club superintendent Shaun Cross and his team.
Last month, the Bay was awarded the Australian PGA Seniors Championship from December 9-11 after NSW PGA officials were blown away by the quality of the Byron course.
"It's nice to be appreciated I guess," chuckled Cross. Unfortunately, it means Cross and his team will be working overtime for the next couple of months in order to have the course in pristine condition when the cream of Australian senior golfers converge on Byron.
The past four years has seen the Byron course undergo a massive change.
"We've done a heap of reconstruction work," Cross said. "Things like green surrounds, fairways, installing lakes and irrigation and pump stations. "It's still going."
Cross did his apprenticeship at the Hills and at Royal Pines but his green keeping experience extends to Banff Springs, Canada, and the Jack Nicklaus course in Florida in the United States.
"Working at Byron has been different than working at the resort style courses," he said.
"We are trying to develop a high-end regional resort course here."
So what type of challenge can Wayne Grady, Rodger Davis, Bob Shearer, David Good and Noel Radcliffe expect if they contest the PGA Championship?
"It will be a pretty tough, narrow course," Cross said. "They won't have the wide open fairways they are used to. "This will be the first time the tournament has been held outside of a city."
Meanwhile, organisers are confident of securing a major sponsor in the following weeks.
With the prizemoney listed as $65,000 on the NSW PGA website serious money will need to be involved.
Nomination forms were only made available last week and Byron club captain Mark Wilson expects to be able to confirm major players in the following weeks.
Wilson said more than 80 professionals are expected to play at the PGA.
"An exhibition type match will be organised hopefully for the Saturday afternoon," he said. "Then the pros tee-off on Sunday."