Date: February 02, 2017
Author: Tony Durkin

Headland junior beats the boos

/> As soon as they realised the perpetrator was a 15-year-old schoolboy, Headland Golf Club members were extremely conciliatory towards James Daniel and his winning score of 50 stableford points last Saturday.

Golfers are usually a tight-knit mob, and while they appreciate a good round, those considered burglars are sometimes ostracised. But James, a rookie playing off a handicap of 34, was widely acclaimed by his fellow club members.

However, it was a different story from across the ditch in New Zealand, where James was born. Proud dad Neven, who played alongside his son last weekend, was particularly humoured by one text message.

“One of my mates replied ‘it must have been hot playing in a balaclava on the Sunshine Coast in the middle of summer’,” he disclosed.

“But being new to golf, James was immune to all the comments and the reaction. He doesn’t get what 50 points really means. He just knows he played well.”

And well he did play, in just his sixth competitive round since he joined Headland last year.

His 50 stableford points – garnered from 92 strokes – represented 14 under his handicap. He had one birdie in his round, plus two pars, 10 bogeys and five double bogeys.

The birdie came on the short par four 12th, which is also one of two designated ‘pro’ pins on the course where players pay a $1 to enter and, if closest to the pin with their second shot, win the sweepstakes. And, after hitting a four iron to 191cm, James also collected that booty of $59 to go with his $75 for winning his division on the day.

The past few months have been quite momentous for the Sienna College grade 10 student.

According to his coach, Headland teaching professional Matt Douglas, he has really knuckled down to his practise and has started taking golf more seriously. And that has now resulted in two wins – a victory with 44 points two months ago plus Saturday’s success. He has also been selected to represent Headland in the Sunshine Coast Junior Pennants competition which kicks off on Sunday.

“He’s a really good kid, and a good listener. And if Saturday’s round is any indication, he is going to become a much better golfer,” said Douglas.

James puts his improved form down to a more dedicated attitude on the course and at practise, and a driver he ‘smuggled’ out of New Zealand after his recent Christmas visit. Previously owned by his grandfather, who once had 51 stableford points in a competition in NZ, the driver has helped his game immensely.

So much so that when he tees it up in the Pennants team on the weekend, his handicap will be 28.