Hayden Schroder had his 10-year-old son Blake tothank for winning his fourthThe Barn Club Championship at the Mount Gambier Golf Club. After claiming his first title back in 1999, Schroder won again in 2008 and 2012, before “kids and work” got in the way.
But with Blake now a keen player himself, Hayden has found a new reason to spend some more time out on the course. That paid off for both of them on Sunday, with Hayden beating Setio Prajogo-Shanahan 4 and 3 to win the major title.
Blake made it a historic day for the family after winning the D Grade final 9 and 8 against Max Hellyer. Despite the victory, Hayden was quick to acknowledge his game had not been on song, particularly over the first 18 holes of the 36-hole final.
He found himself two down after the first two holes, with Prajogo-Shanahan winning the 1st after putting in from off the green for birdie and taking the 2nd with a regulation par. Schroder got one back on the 3rd after his opponent found bunker trouble, but lost the 4th after another sprayed drive.
In fact he had so much trouble with the driver he eventually had to switch to a 3-wood off the tee and took 14 holes to find his first fairway. But even that did not lead to a change of fortunes because Prajogo-Shanahan played one of the shots of the day, a punched five-iron from a poor lie to inside two feet for an easy birdie.
That put him 1up and he doubled that lead on the par-five 15th after hitting a superb pitch shot to 1m from about 50m out for another birdie. Unfortunately he gave that back on the easy par-four 18th after a poor approach shot finished short and right despite driving down the middle of the fairway.
In fact he was only able to hit five greens in regulation on the first 18 holes despite hitting 11 of 14 fairways. Schroder on the other hand hit nine greens in regulation despite hitting just three fairways. “I just lost my rhythm altogether (with the driver),” he said.
He also said he did not “feel comfortable with the putter all day”, while Prajogo-Shanahan made difficult putts for wins on the 1st, 4th and 10th in the first 18 holes. After turning 1down, Schroder got back to square with a par on the first, but looked likely to give it back on the par-four 2nd when he hit his drive into the right side of the 3rd fairway.
But with Prajogo-Shanahan safely on the green for two, Schroder played an incredible six-iron over trees and the greenside bunker to about seven feet. That hole was halved with pars, but Schroder went 1up on the 5th after Prajogo-Shanahan again had bunker issues.
That margin was maintained through the 9th, but Schroder extended that to 3up with pars good enough to win the 10th and 11th. Prajogo-Shanahan got back to 2down after an incredible 40-foot par putt on the 13th, but lost the 14th after more bunker problems and the match was over after Schroder made a short putt for birdie on the 15th.
The 36-hole A Reserve final finished on the same hole with 21-year-old Josh Knowles beating 14-year-old Callum Harvey 4 and 3. Knowles admitted he played the round of his life on the first 18 holes, shooting 77 off the stick to make the turn 4up.
He did not play quite as well in the second round, but Harvey was unable to make the most of the opportunities that came his way. In the B Grade final it was relative newcomer Brett Shepherdson who made a one-act affair of his 36-hole match against Bryan Hunt, taking the title 8 and 7.
Shepherdson, who only started playing golf two years ago after moving from Adelaide, was 4up after 18 holes thanks to a great short game and a red-hot putter. Hunt tried to hang in but Shepherdson produced the shot of the match on the par-five 7th hole, hitting his approach inside a foot for a tap-in birdie to go 7up and put the end in sight.
The C Grade final over 27 holes saw another newcomer in Matt Bowering overcome Kev Lennon 3 and 2. Bowering, who only took up golf about 12 months ago, was 4up after nine holes, but Lennon’s putter got him back to square through 14.
He was 1down after the 18th, but wins to Bowering on the 3rd, 4th and 5th put the issue beyond doubt. In the 18-hole D Grade final there may have been more than six decades of experience between 10-year-old Blake Schroder and his opponent Max Hellyer.
But that proved no problem for the youngster who won the first seven holes, halved the 8th and won the 9th and 10th to end the match in time to watch his dad Hayden make it a memorable day for the family.
The presentations will be held at the club on Friday, May 7.