Newcastle gets NSW Open for three years

We’ve been telling anyone who would listen that Newcastle Golf Club could rival anything Melbourne’s famous sandbelt had to offer.

Now we get the chance to prove it with the revelation last month that this Fern Bay gem will host the NSW Open championship for the next three years.

Newcastle Golf Club Newcastle Golf Club

Certainly Newcastle is regarded as one of Australia’s most renowned and respected golf courses, as well as being in the top two or three in this state.

Now some of our best touring professionals will get the chance to find out for themselves and hopefully tell the world when they play this time-honoured championship from 2011 through to and including 2013.

Golf NSW chief executive Greg Mills and Newcastle Golf Club captain Michael Mulvaney signed an historic agreement for the club to again become the host venue.

Also present were two former champions of this event, Owen Beldham who won it in 1972 and 2008 winner, Aaron Townsend.

A new event logo was also unveiled.

With Newcastle these days regarded as one of the sporting hubs in the state, some of Australia’s best – and even a sprinkling of international players – are expected to descend on this picturesque layout in November, 2011.

Newcastle previously hosted this championship in 1972.

And this is a course that has been consistently ranked in the top 15 courses in the country.

The club is justifiably proud that three holes of its 18-hole layout are internationally-ranked, particularly the short but testing seventh, which is considered one of the best 18 holes in the world outside of the United States and the United Kingdom.

It probably seems a lifetime ago but in 1972, a leading amateur golfer at the time and club member Owen Beldham called on all his local knowledge to trump the field and become the first amateur to win the title since the championship became ‘Open’ in 1958.

Beldham remembers his victory as though it were yesterday and has fond memories of raising the grand trophy in triumph.

“In those days the championship was one of the three big tournaments on the Australian tour, and attracted a really high-class international field,” Beldham told Golfer Pacific.

“The weather also had a big effect that year.

“But I played pretty well, knowing the right spot to place my ball and understanding the subtle breaks in the greens.”

Likewise, 2008 NSW Open champion and Newcastle local, Aaron Townsend, has always considered the course a wonderful layout and to have an opportunity to contest this title again at such a worthy venue was very special.

Townsend, who is also a member of the club, said “I’ve grown up here and Newcastle has always been one of those courses through its worldwide reputation that you just love to have an opportunity to play, and now particularly at one of our leading championships.

“I just hope I am able to be here in November to try and add my name to the trophy again.”

While he is currently in Europe, 2010 NSW Open winner Peter O’Malley sent a message of congratulations on learning of the news, admitting that Newcastle was one of the best regional courses in Australia.

“It’s a wonderful event with a great history so congratulations to the organisers for arranging the 2011 Championship at Newcastle Golf Club,” O’Malley said.

The 2011 NSW Open, which forms part of the wider PGA Tour of Australasia, will be held at Newcastle Golf Club from November 17 to 20, 2011 and in continuing the tradition of the championship, entry to the course will be free of charge.