Golf pro ready for peers

By ADAM HICKS sport@northernstar.com.au BYRON BAY club head professional Greg Stewart has been playing golf for more than 30 years, but at 42 he is still too young to compete in the Australian PGA Seniors Championship on his own course.

"I have eight years to practise," he said. "You have to be 50 to play.

"If there is still a seniors championship when I'm that age, I will absolutely play.

"I think you'd have to be crazy to qualify and not have a shot at the Australian PGA Championship."

Instead of his own game, the youngster will focus on hosting some of the biggest names in Australian senior golf who will take to the course for a 52-hole competition starting Sunday.

"I've played in tournaments for most of my career so to be on the other side of the fence is a good challenge," Stewart said.

"I'm looking forward to having something of this size at our club.

"To have an Australian championship on our own course is a very big thing. "Not many clubs have that opportunity.

"You take a lot of pride in it and want the other pros to have a good experience.

"I'm dealing with my peers here, people who've been in this industry all their lives, so to have them come up to you at the end and say 'you've done a good job' would be a good thing."

The tournament will also serve as an early anniversary for Stewart, who moved from Sydney just under a year ago.

"My priority is not tournament golf any more," he said. "I still love competing but my priority is servicing the Byron Bay Golf Club.

"I'll be starting the field from the first group to the last.

"Once the field is away I'll be checking on what's happening to make sure everything is running as smoothly as it possibly can."

Stewart said the championship field was 'bulging' with 82 professionals and 99 amateurs ready to tee off.

"There are amateurs from all over the region, with some coming down from the Gold Coast and Brisbane," he said. "They couldn't resist coming down and playing.

"It's somewhat unique to play in a major Australian championship and to play along with the professionals who are trying to win the championship.

"Of the 82 professionals, there are 30 names that would be well known to anyone over 40.

"They still play a hight standard of golf."

Stewart also said it was a great chance to show off the up-grades that the course has undergone over the past four years.



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