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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 276
THE VIEW BONVILLE RIDES A DIFFERENT COURSE O ne of the more interesting tournaments in recent memory unfolded this past week at the popular NSW north coast resort of Bonville, near Coffs Harbour. Long a favourite of interstate road travellers, the course itself is an unusual one in many respects and it is the very nature of the hilly layout, which made the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville unique. For the first time in this writer’s memory, the entire field of professionals in the ALPG/Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event used carts for all 72 holes of the tournament. The decision was taken by organisers on Tuesday of tournament week and for those who have played Bonville it will come as little surprise. Walking is not an option at the course for green fee players as the combination of distance between several of the greens and tees, and the steep nature of the terrain, makes bi-pedal locomotion impractical. But the sight of professional golfers and their caddies riding in carts for the entire week was a somewhat confronting one. While for regular golf watchers the spectacle was unusual the players themselves also had to make some adjustments. For touring pros there are two types of golf: hit and giggle (including pro-ams) where they may ride in a cart and tournaments, where they walk. Stepping on to the 1st tee on Thursday for a professional golfer is like walking into the office Monday morning for the rest of us. Those who occasionally work from home will be familiar with that unusual feeling of being at work while not really feeling like it and it is a sensation the players could identify with. England’s Holly Clyburn, the leader through the first 36 holes, didn’t hold back when asked her thoughts on the decision to use carts. Granted, Clyburn was commenting just minutes after posting a third-round 74 to give up the lead on a rainy and difficult day but she was clearly frustrated with the unusual circumstances. “I’m just going to tell the truth,” she said when asked about using a cart. “It’s just a nightmare with the course condition. “I know where the organisers are coming from where we need to get around but at the same time it’s just in and out (of the cart) and it probably takes longer going off the course to on the path. (The 90 degree rule was in effect Saturday because of the wet conditions). “I know we’ve had five holes of trouble out there but it’s 10 to five now and it’s taken us (five hours)....it’s just really hard.” Western Australia’s Hannah Green also said the experiment was somewhat difficult for the players. “I don’t really enjoy it at all,” she said, “but I don’t think I’d enjoy walking and playing a round in six and a half hours or however long it takes. “It’s hard to get momentum, its hard even with bad momentum to get into a cart and be stuck there thinking about it. “At least when you’re walking you’d look around and see other things so it’s a little different.” In all other ways the tournament was a success and Bonville GM Brad Daymond and his team should rightly be proud of the show they put on. Anyone with the courage to start a new professional event is to be applauded and accolades go to both Golf NSW and Bonville for their five-year commitment to the tournament. But if anything is to be learned from the first year it will be that carts really have no place in professional golf. If a solution to that problem can be found, the Australian Ladies Classic could easily become a fan and player favourite for years to come. E ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen. Laura Davies rides in a cart during the Bonville event.
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