Long-time Palmerston Professional Tony Albon provides a few playing tips and his thoughts on the week ahead at the Northern Territory PGA Championship - presented by Cazalys Palmerston.
It's been a big year here at Palmerston Golf Course. As you would imagine, there has been a lot of work done behind the scenes to get the tournament off the ground, meeting after meeting, arranging all the activities for the week.
There are women's and junior golf clinics being held at Darwin Golf Club, the Junior Pro-Am at Palmerston on Tuesday, then the two shot gun tee time starts for the sponsors’ Pro-Am on Wednesday, which will include our 'Path to Palmerston' winners from all over the Territory.
Ken from Barge Express has been great sponsor and supporter of the Championship and once again will provide his barge for the Tournament dinner cruise on Saturday night. The cruise (pictured) was one of the highlights of last year’s event and all indications are that he needs to get a bigger boat based on the response we’ve had this year!
Volunteers, I think, made the event last year and they will be what will make the tournament such a success this year. We can’t thank them enough for the time and effort they put in.
2.4 metres of rain fell over last year’s wet season, the third largest on record. This had a significant impact on the course with nearly 10 big Mahogany trees falling over, on the 13th fairway, near the 14th tee and the 17th and 18th fairways.
Shallow-rooted trees don’t stand much chance in high winds and wet ground and the outcomes were mixed in terms of their impact on playability of these holes. It is what it is.
We’ve been in the dry season for a number of months now and what visitors to Darwin need to understand is that with seven or more days without rain, grassed areas can start to suffer from the extremes. While there are some heat-affected areas, there's plenty of room on the greens for good pin placements.
The new putting green will open this week but because of the big wet, we started construction about a month later then we would have liked. It should roll well but new greens normally take at least 12 months to settle.
The two new tees added at holes 5 and 18 will also add character to both holes over the longer term.
We have to thank City of Palmerston council for their assistance in many areas. The driving range has had to be shortened to 200 metres in length due to its proximity to nearby residences, although the Flight Path facility is 15 minutes down the road if players want to hit longer clubs.
The Council did some fantastic work in clearing reeds from around the lakes on the front nine and this has really improved the aesthetics of these holes and the layout generally.
The best advice on course strategy I can give about Palmerston is: ‘Don't hit it in the trees, mate!’
Stay on the green stuff and it's not that hard. Go off the green stuff and you will be playing off "coffee rock" or hardpan areas.
I would suggest holes 10, 11 and 12 is Palmerston’s equivalent to ‘Amen Corner’. They’re not long holes but are tight and feature small greens and should all benefit from some of the tree lopping and fairway work completed prior to the Championship.
Play them in even par or better and you’re every chance of posting a good score.
The dry season winds should be up in the afternoon and the weather will be fantastic and a bit warm. Drink lots of water, boys.
It shaping up to be a great week and to local Darwin fans, do yourself a favour and come out and watch how far and straight these boys hit it.