Mt Xavier gets Pro-Am boost

Ballarat’s Mt Xavier Golf Club has secured its first pro-am in its 62-year history and the first pro-am for the Ballarat area in four years.

Up to 80 professionals will join amateurs in the October 23 pro-am over 18 holes.

Ballarat's Mt Xavier Golf Club Ballarat’s Mt Xavier Golf Club

The club hopes to raise $15,000 for the event, $10,000 of which would go directly into the prize purse.

“Now that we’ve got this pro-am happening, it’s created a newfound enthusiasm to improve our golf course,” Mt Xavier President Steve Jones said.

“Where there hasn’t been grass before, it will be grassed, the trees will be trimmed and a few more will be planted.”

The pro-am will be held on the Sunday during Mt Xavier’s annual tournament and with further interest from sponsors, Jones hopes the pro-am will become an annual fixture.

“We don’t really just want to concentrate on our local sponsors. Multinationals, whatever, we don’t care. We’ll take money off anyone,” he said.

“We’ve had a few (sponsors) come on board already. I think we’d be able to turn a profit in the first year.”

Jones said the course will improve its reputation by year’s end amongst the other courses in Ballarat – Midlands, Ballarat, Creswick and Buninyong.

“We’re doing works now that will come to fruition in October for our annual tournament,” Jones said.

“We haven’t got fairway watering so we rely on mother nature to supply us with water for our fairways.

“We’ve got irrigation on our tees and greens but not yet on our fairways. That’d be a long-term goal to improve our course and get fairway watering and with that we would be equal to any course in Ballarat.

“The condition of the course at the moment is the best it’s been for 20 years.”

The club has also enjoyed a spike in green fee numbers with the addition of motorised carts to the club this year.

Mt Xavier also purchased two new fairway mowers this year and hopes to add another in Spring 2012.

“We can survive with the gear we’ve got but we’re always trying to improve,” Jones said.

“So it will be a lot easier for our volunteer base to maintain the course.”

Memberships have steadily increased this year with about 300 members, including about 50 juniors and Jones expects the pro-am to boost junior numbers.

“That’s $10 a year for a junior membership and we’re finding that’s a great benefit to the place. To have the pro-am here in Ballarat, that can only be beneficial for all clubs in creating an interest in golf in and around the district,” he said.

The club is relieved to have survived years of drought since the early part of the century.

“Whilst we were able to survive, we had a veritable army of volunteers that would come out after work every night,” Jones said.

“We had a number of trucks set up with water tanks and trailers and people sort of took on their own hole and watered the tees and the greens on that particular hole and that kept us going.”