Race to Bonville winner makes it a family affair
QUEENSLAND team member Donal Bowe has been crowned national champion at the Golflink Race to Bonville grand final.
Keeping it in the family, Donal is the brother of Patrick Bowe, who captured last year's crown.
The new titleholder had a very impressive two days, scoring a total of 71 stableford points.
Runner-up was Michael Haberfield with a total of 67 points.
Michael is from Tea Tree Gully Golf Club in South Australia and relegated Scott Hedger from Northlakes Golf Club in Queensland on countback.
It came as no surprise the Queensland team won the best team score, with two of their players featuring highly as individual scorers.
The runner-up team was South Australia, with the NSW crew taking third place on the podium.
Other winners included Sandra O'Donnell from Pymble Golf Club in Sydney, who was named the top female competitor with a score of 54 points.
The B-grade competition went to Mark Foley from Glenelg Golf Club in South Australia with a score of 66 points on countback.
The tournament is conducted by Golf Link, the number one website for the game in Australia and the host site for every Australian golfer who has an official golf handicap.
Bonville Golf Resort has a five-year contract as host of the national final.
Players who qualified were drawn from a pool of more than 80,000 golfers through competitions held on a state-by-state basis across Australia.
To qualify, players earned points at each event to vie for a position on their state's order of merit.
At the end of qualifying rounds, the top 40 players plus ties, noted place-getters based on grade, regional event winners and the order of merit champion were able to qualify for the respective state finals.
Following those finals, the A-, B- and C-grade winners were then qualified to represent their state at Bonville Golf Resort.
To be eligible to partake in qualifying rounds, each male and female golfer had to hold an official Golf Australia handicap on Golf Link.
Players in the 2014-15 national final were thrilled to travel to Coffs Harbour and play on a golf course consistently rated as the most beautiful in the land.
Bonville general manager Brad Daymond said no stone was left unturned to ensure the visitors had a Coffs Coast experience they would not forget in a hurry.
"For many, this is a lifetime golfing experience where qualifiers enjoy an all-expenses-paid final to remember," he said.
"Players are treated to team uniforms, accommodation on site and all meals."
The event began with a practise round on Monday, followed by a welcoming cocktail party that involved every player participating in a night-time chipping contest from the Terrace Lawn of the Bonville clubhouse back to the 18th green.
"This event relaxed the nerves of the players and created great camaraderie among each of the state teams," Brad said.
The overall winner of the chipping contest shootout was Troy Whittaker from Victoria, who won a unique Bonville golf shirt for himself and a bottle of wine for each of his team members.
The event proper was played over 36 holes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Golf Link operation director and event organiser Nick Thornton said what made the Golflink Race to Bonville so special was it gave ordinary club players the opportunity to show their golfing skills in a tournament conducted along the lines of a trophy major.
"It was wonderful to be back at Bonville for the second year," Nick added.
"As always, the staff has looked after us and our guests extremely well.
"No request was too big or too small.
"The course was presented in immaculate condition, which was even more commendable after recent heavy rain.
"The functions went without a hitch and the food was magnificent.
"A truly first-class operation."