Wirth smashes COVID concerns off the tee at Mount Gambier Golf Club

COVID-19 may have caused havoc for countless sports across South Australia when it took hold early last year.

But golf was not one of them …

and Mount Gambier Golf Club member Craig Wirth took full advantage.

Having been stuck on a handicap of around 17 for a few years, Wirth took to the course at  Attamurra on a regular basis when the lock-down was called.

 And it paid off, with his handicap coming down to as low as 10.

While that did not translate to any wins, that changed on Saturday when he took out the Monthly Medal with a score of net 69.

Wirth teed off at 11am, just as the heavy rain the early morning players had to deal with began to subside.

And on a day that saw just four players beat their handicaps, Wirth shot 80 off the stick from his 11 handicap to take the Medal by a single shot from Joe Clements and Phil Bliss.

“I was very happy with the way I hit them,” Wirth said.

 “I hit my irons very well, but I missed probably six-to-eight birdie putts from between  10-and-20 feet.

“Normally I’d make two or three of those.” Wirth started well with pars on the first three holes, but came back to earth with double bogeys on the 4th and 5th after poor drives.

From then on, however, he hardly put a foot wrong, playing his final 13 holes in just four over par.

The highlight was a birdie two on the par-three 8th hole after hitting a nine-iron to just five  feet.

That helped him shoot 40 off the stick on the front nine despite the two double bogeys, and he matched that on the back nine to claim the  Medal and top honours in A Grade.

Clements took second spot from Bliss after the pair shot net 70s.

The C Graders found the going particularly challenging, Kym Sykes taking the top prize on a countback from Chris Gabriel after the pair shot net 77s.

One player who deserved a special mention was Mitch Handford.

Playing off a seven handicap, he braved the terrible morning conditions, with one of the  early starters describing his round as “the wettest I have ever been on a golf course”, to record  a more-than respectable net 73.

Saturday morning’s weather was in direct  contrast to Thursday where 84 players contested the stableford competition.

And in the end it was Graham Paterson who topped the leaderboard with 41 points.

Runner-up was five-handicapper Andrew Stark who shot an excellent 75 off the stick to finish with 38 points.

Stark parred the front nine for 19 points, and while he birdied the 14th and 15th, five bogeys on the back nine cost him a shot at victory.

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