The team pictured with Jackie Newton, wife of the JNJG (Jack Newton Junior Golf) founder Jack Newton.
On Saturday 13th January our Junior Pennant Team consisting of Bill Eppelstun, Keith Tompsett, Bronte Eppelstun, Lachie Booth, James Collins & Emma Peard headed to Newcastle to compete in the State Final for Junior Pennant. Each team won their way into the event by beating local associations in the knockout format event.
Arriving mid afternoon the kids got a quick look at the course and its difficulties with 9 holes to familiarise themselves. Their initial reaction of the Stockton layout was that it was in great condition but pretty brutal if you left the fairway.
They awoke Sunday to play the Newcastle Junior Open, a great opportunity to put their skills to the test in a competitive environment prior to the Matchplay event.
While each of the kids equipped themselves well, a combination of new course, unfamiliar conditions and the excitement of what lay ahead meant their scoring wasn’t up to their expectations.
Emma was the only Junior to feature in the prizes finishing Runner Up in the Girls Nett event, however they all had a great time and were better for the run leading into Monday’s knockout Pennant Final.
They were greeted with strong 40 k/h winds on Monday which made the challenge even stronger. The unity of the team meant they started on the range, headed for the chipping green and finally finished their warm up with some putting. As a team they all headed to the first tee to begin their quest for State glory. This was the scene for the entire week. If they had to be somewhere of go anywhere, they did it as a team and looked great as a unit, even other teams commenting how close the team was and how well they worked along side each other.
Most of the matches got off to a slow start and for a couple of them they never recovered.
Pictured above is Bronte commencing her 2nd round, eventually going on to win her 2nd match in succession.
Emma went down at no. 6 but still had that smile on her face the whole way, further adding to the atmosphere amongst the team. At no. 5 James fought all the way and aside from a couple of late 3 putts would have come away with the victory, however a squared match was his result, meaning we were on the board.
Lachie went out at no. 4 and was 3 down early but to his credit got back to 1 down late but a poor last hole meant he lost 2/1.
Bronte was the star of the week, each day getting off to a great start and never looking back, putting her opponent to the sword 7/6 on day 1 to put another point in our account.
In the top 2 matches both Bill & Keith got off to slow starts but midway through the back 9 were 2 up and square respectively and an unlikely team win was on the cards.
A couple of errant tee shots and some great play by their opponents saw them both go down in close results which meant the team eventually lost 4 ½ matches to 1 ½. The kids were very upbeat even though they had lost their chance to win the Final.
It meant they had to compete in the 3rd v 4th place playoff on Tuesday.
They had a bit of relax time Monday afternoon and so the bus, combining all 9 Catalina team members, headed to the Sandhills just north of Newcastle to further investigate the local geography.
They had a great time and gave them an opportunity to take their minds off the golf for a while and just enjoy their surrounds. It was back to the accommodation for dinner and preparation for Day 2.
Unfortunately in their enthusiasm and playful nature, Lachie copped a bump and landed awkwardly on his left shoulder and wasn’t able to swing a club properly on Day 2 and therefore we started 1 played short for the day.
Just yesterday Lachie went for an X-ray and was diagnosed as having a fracture in his Humerus bone so the landing may have been harder than first thought. This will put him on the sidelines for a couple of months with his brother Alex, who made the trip as a support crew even after breaking his collar bone in a bike riding accident the week prior.
Day 2 started much like the first with each player getting off to a slow start, aside form Emma who was 1 up after 4 holes. For both Keith & Bill their deficit was too much too reel in and although they lasted to the 16th & 17th holes they went down.
Playing at no. 3 Bronte again showed a clean sheet to her highly rated opponent never giving him a chance, going on to win her match 4/3. At no.4 after the promotion of Lachie not playing, James played similar to the first day, although I think the experience from day 1 gave him the confidence required as he closed out a similarly close match 2 up on the 18th.
His golf certainly showed his handicap will come down as he begins to play more events and he realises now the value of Pennant and the challenge it presents. With Lachie being out, Emma was the youngest member of the team and battled all day, eventually losing on the 16th but the experience gained from playing and being around the team for the week will be invaluable for her development.
In the end we went down 4/2 but again the team held their heads high and congratulated their entire opposition team in defeat and continued their demeanour throughout.
We’d like to extend our gratitude to the Club and the Board for their ongoing support of the Juniors and giving them the opportunity to go to Newcastle in the first place.
It was such a great experience and for a couple of them their first golf trip away and an experience they will remember for many years to come. Also to Justin Collins for making the trip and helping out with the coordination and bus driving for the week.