Ballina's just a town like Alice
THEY came all the way from Alice Springs just for a game of golf – but according to partners Brian and Debbie Pepper the trip to Ballina to take part in the Veterans’ Week of Golf was well worth it.
Certainly by Ballina’s standards the event does not get any bigger – it is the club’s biggest annual tournament.
The 36-hole competition, which started on Monday and finished yesterday, hosted more than 200 competitors on each of the three days.
As well as the Peppers, who ventured so far to take part, other competitors came from as far as Victoria and central Queensland.
The Peppers trekked down for last year’s Veterans Week which Ballina hosted for the first time and would not have missed this year’s tournament for the world.
Brian and Debbie are mates with Ballina local Rick Grainger, who used to live in Alice Springs.
Grainger did not have to work hard to convince the Peppers to come down again this year.
“It’s a beautiful tournament and is well run by the volunteers with a great atmosphere,” Brian said.
“I’m on the board for Golf Northern Territory and I like to check out what other clubs are doing.
“It’s a different course here; the greens are challenging.”
Grainger is only too happy to return the favour and venture to Alice Springs to play golf, but mainly to tell stories over beers with the Peppers when that town hosts its Masters tournament.
“I go up there every two years,” Grainger said. “The Masters up there is so successful now.
“It attracts more than 7000 every time and the golfing vets just take over Alice Springs. But this event in Ballina is getting better every year.”
Ballina Golf Club president Brian Shelton said his tournament had grown so quickly that next year it is set to host a New Zealand player – its first international to play in Veterans Week.
Today will be a fun day where competitors play in a relaxed 4BBB medley stableford to round out the event.
Division 1 top three – men
1st Gavin Jensen of Tin Can Bay 38 pts; 2nd James Forrester of Gosford 37 pts; third Brian Rabbitt of South West Rocks 36 pts.
Division 1 top three – female
1st Christa Lindner of Ballina 38 pts on countback; 2nd Jan Kearsley of Bellingen 38 pts; 3rd Lee Daley of Yamba 35 pts on countback.
NSW Veterans Golf shield top three – men
1st Barry Latham of Yamba 81 pts; 2nd Ed Smith of Forster 77 pts; 3rd John Starling of Port Kembla 75 pts.
NSW Veterans Golf shield top three – women
1st Christine Johnson of Charlestown 47 pts; 2nd Alice Brown of Forster of Forster 42 pts; Rose Ballard of Beerwah 41 pts.