Test for youngster
By MITCHELL DALE
IN terms of experience, Coffs Harbour golfer Dylan Stollery is about as green as the fairways he will be driving on his home course during this weekend's North Coast Amateur Open.
The 19-year-old only took up golf about three years ago but he is confident he can match it with some of the most experienced amateur players in NSW and Queensland this weekend.
This will be Stollery's second crack at the North Coast Open, but it is the first time he has had a realistic chance of making an impression on the 70-strong field.
"Last year I knew I wasn't up to their standard and couldn't shoot the scores needed to be up there," he admitted.
"I didn't go too well, so this will be a good test to see how much I have improved.
"I have worked hard on my game, I've practiced for about five hours every day and most aspects of my game have improved."
The many hours have obviously worked, with Stollery halving his handicap ? from six to three ? since the 2003 North Coast Open.
This weekend's event has been highlighted in Stollery's calender since the start of the year.
"(Doing well this weekend) was a major goal I set myself this year," he said.
"I want to be on the leader board - top five.
"I have been hitting the ball pretty well and I'm feeling confident."
In order to achieve his goal, Stollery has stepped up his preparation over the last few weeks.
"I have spent extra time working on the things I haven't been doing well," he said.
"Around the greens, putting and chipping, that is where I have been falling down, but I have worked hard to improve those areas."
But Stollery will have his work cut out for him.
Among the field will be teams of four representing NSW and Queensland.
Queensland team member Justin Maker is the defending champion.
Coffs Harbour club captain Geoff Howlett said the North Coast Open, now into its 54th year, is the biggest annual event on the club's calender.
"It will be a top-class field, the winner will probably need to shoot about six to eight under for the 54 holes," he said.
Previous winners of the event include current touring professionals Paul Sheehan and Scott Gardiner, while Kel Nagle and Gary Player both claimed the title when it was a professional event.
As well as the North Coast Open, the Coffs Cup (for six-15 handicappers) and the Ladies Classic will also be held at Coffs Harbour this weekend.