As part of the Grange Junior sub committee it has been my ambition to take a group of our Grange Juniors to Melbourne and play at a couple of our reciprocal clubs.

Thursday the 3rd and Friday the 4th Sarah Douglass Norris and I along with Alex Clarke GA hcp of 6.1, Alex Siegmund GA hcp of 4.6, Cameron Cordon GA hcp of 4.9, Millie Whinney GA hcp 1.9 and Raegan Denton GA hcp of 5.3. They can all play. The purpose of this trip was to introduce these golfers to travel, playing different golf courses and learning something about the golf industry. 

It started early. Meet at the airport no later than 5:15am to catch the 6:35 flight to Melbourne.

Once in Melbourne we all jumped into the mini van and made the leisurely drive to Spring Valley along the M1. Leisurely because it was bumper to bumper for about 30 minutes.

We arrived at Spring Valley just a bit before 11am. On the way down the drive – way of the Spring Valley GC, I and the passengers noticed the suspension in a mini van is not the same over speed bumps as a car!

We entered the club house and introduced ourselves to the staff, got a bucket of range balls each and the team loosened up.

Conditions at this stage where very windy and quite warm, so after a few full shots, chips, bunker shots and putts we went into the clubhouse for something to eat and drink. I have noticed that teenagers can get hungry so when I put the lunch menus in front of the boys their eyes lit up. The 3 boys imediately selected the Schnitzel option. I knew what they wanted, but this trip is all about learning! So when the menu says Chicken Schnitzel Salad, that doesn’t mean salad on the side with a chicken schnitzel. You should have seen their faces when they saw their chicken schnitzel already cut up on top of the coleslaw and salad. Priceless.

After an entertaining lunch, we met the other juniors of Spring Valley. Max, Bohan, Stephanie and Hannah. Spring Valley had one short due to illness so we played a friendly stableford round. Max was the better golfer of the Spring Valley Team playing off a GA of 8. Like most of us if Max could learn how to control his tees shots he would be a much lower handicap. Young Bohan would get around the course but sitting on his golf bag with his feet on the frame of the buggy and his father would pull the buggy around the course. At a guess he was about 7 or 8 yo. Bohan was great for the muscle hitters in the group. Proving you don’t need to hit it 300 to have some good results, but a very interesting way to get around the course. Stephanie was a very nervous 40+ handicapper and became more relaxed and comfortable as the round went on and a big thank you and congratulations to our young ladies Mille and Raegan for helping her feel like this. Well done, I am proud of you girls. It was only Hannahs second time on a golf course so she was very new to the game. So I couldn’t even imagine how nervous she would have been playing with a couple of State Players. The Grange team did very well with scores from 30pts to a very creditable 36 pts by Alex Clarke. Well done in such tough conditions team.

After golf we went in to the clubhouse and Team Grange went in and thanked the staff and the club and we made our way to one of the biggest driving ranges in Australia. The Melbourne Golf Academy. Sarah and I watched the Team hit balls for about an hour and then we had a putting comp won by Alex Siegmund. If you get a chance to do any practice after hours in Melbourne this is the place. Its just across the road from the Moorabbin Airport.

We left MGA and after a brief drive arrived at The Dingley International to check into our accomodation. 30 Minutes meet in the lobby and we headed to dinner in the Dingley Bistro.           The boys being a little wiser this time ordered the Schnitzel with chips! All the meals where great as was the company. Its interesting to see where these golfers are at the moment and to listen to where they might want to head in the future.

The next day we all arrived at breakfast and everyone was having heathy options. Then the waitress came and advised that the full breakfast was part of our package. WOW you should have seen the boys then. It was like watching David Attenborough.

After the kill we loaded up the van and headed out to a companies head office called Acushnet. Many of you know them as Titleist and Footjoy. There we were met by Nick Arnold the Managing Director for Australia, New Zealand. Nick started to talk about how the company was founded what the brand stood for in golf, the product and all the hows and whys. As expected the Team lit up when they found that if they answered or asked a question they got rewarded. First up was Raegan and she won a sleeve of Pro V1x golf balls. Well that then soon woke the rest up. With Nick being way over generous. All the Team received a bag full of product kindly donated by Nick and Acushnet. After this the warehouse manager and Nick gave us a Tour of the warehouse, club assembly and the Tour department. This was great for the Team to see how much stock Acushnet hold, how it is picked, constructed and then shipped. A big thank you to Acushnet. With the release of the new irons, hybrids and a great new shoe range, they are so busy. So thank you Nick and his team for taking the time out to show us the great setup at Acushnet.

Next we headed to the Woodlands Golf Club. We made our way to the Pro Shop introduced ourselves and met the staff. Who were great and very helpful. Ethan gave us each a bucket of range balls so we could work on a couple of glitches have a few putts then lunch. This time we competed against golfers handicaps that ranged from GA 6 through to 12 and handicap matchplay the was form of play. After watching our Team perform the day before I was pretty confident. After the trade day finished we made our way to the tee for a 12:45 hit off. With all the players on course the rain hit from the second hole and it lasted pretty much all day. With the greens like rock and like many course in Melbourne that host a trade day the pins where all at the front of the greens to reduce around green traffic. One hole saw Millie having to play away from the hole just to keep it on the green. This was great test as our Team soon had to learn about positioning and my big word for the week, strategy. The Team handled themselves very well and considering many had to give double their handicap in shots it was great to get 3 matches in early with Millie playing extremely well finishing 1 under and not playing too many holes on the back nine at all. Another to win was the steady Alex Clarke with a beautiful gentle fade with each shot, love that ball flight Alex. Alex Siegmund was next to win with some great recovery shots and great putting, I hope this trip has given you more trust in your technique especially your putting Alex. Unfortunately Cameron had a bad day off the tee but when he did hit fairway WOW his iron play was fantastic. With some different strategies and a more relaxed posture will see Cameron compete at the level he wants too. As the rain started to get heavier and heavier. Raegan was travelling awesome but due to some great shots from her opponent and some shots given, it soon saw Raegan just 1 up with 3 to go. Raegan then had the task of holding that lead with 3 holes to go and 2 shots to be given. Raegan hit a cracking tee shot on the 16th and an even better fairway metal to about 25 feet. Andy, her opponent was on for 3 and 2 putted they halved the hole. The 17th at Woodlands was playing into the wind uphill and the rain was not abaiting. Raegan hit a greta shot but just caught the left edge of the green and it bounced left, Andy hit his tee shot over the back and after a miraculous flop shot got it up and down for the win. All square going down the last. Both players hit great shots for the entire hole and a fitting result was a match that finished all square. I know how competitive Raegan is and how much she wanted to win. But as a spectator it was the best to see 2 young golfers going head to head like that was amazing. Best match I have seen in a long time.

After we all dried off we made our way back to the airport to catch our flight back to Adelaide. All in all it was a great learning experience for all and we have a lot of people to thank for this experience.

So on behalf of the 2019 Team Junior Melbourne Tour. We want to thank those who kindly give financially to our Junior Foundation. Without you we could not do these sorts of things to keep Grange strong, both from a membership point and a competitive point. A big thankyou to Sarah Douglass Norris for taking the time away from her family in the school holidays and for her coaching assistance, those whom volunteer their time to be a part of the Grange Committee, Craig Coleman Chairman of the Junior Committee and his committee, Simon Andrew our Golf Ops Manager for arranging this trip, Spring Valley Golf Club and staff, Woodlands Golf Club and staff and a huge thank you to all other competitors from both clubs. We had a great time on and off the course and we learnt a lot from each other. I know how to airdrop now and they know how bad my Dad jokes are!

In closing whenever I go overseas or interstate it make’s me appreciate what we have at Grange and how strong our Junior Program is and is going to be. This would not be possible without you the Member of Grange.

To the parents of these kids / adults, you are all doing such a great job. I know they might be different at home and can be a handful. But these Juniors from Grange and from your families, I am so proud of. They are so polite, willing to help and they want to learn. So I am looking forward to seeing how, where and what they become over the next few years.

Kindest Regards

One proud Pro

Warren Mercer