It took Mudgee 108 years to win their first top grade Central West District Golf Association pennants crown and after making it three straight in 2018 Mudgee’s golfing messiah Mark Hale fearlessly predicted his side “might win the next 108”.
Hyperbole aside, Hale’s confident Mudgee will again figure come the business end of the 2019 season – which tees off on February 3 – and a chance of winning a fourth consecutive crown is still very real.
But Hale’s band of merry birdie hunters has taken a hit, with the losses of Matt Stanley and the “silver sovereign” John Osborn expected to bring the three-time defending champs back to the field.
“We’ve only got three of the originals,” Hale said, Fabian Wright, Andy Gay and Zac Kelly in line for a top grade berth in 2019.
“Some blokes will be in their first season of division one.
“But we’ve got the nucleus of a good squad and I’m sure the other fellas will come into their own and we can knock them off again.”
Mudgee has again been grouped with last year’s runners-up Dubbo, as well as perennial contenders Duntryleague and the increasingly tough Wellington in pool A.
Pool B will, as it did last year, feature 2018 semi-finalists Cowra and Forbes as well as Bathurst and Parkes.
Wentworth won’t field a division one team in 2019, an absence that has shocked Hale and CWDGA president Chris Tongue.
Wentworth though, will field teams in divisions two, three and four.
“It’s good, tough, pennants out here,” Hale said.
“I always like having a game against the great Robert [Payne] from Duntryleague. We get on well. He’s good value and a great player.
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“And the Dubbo lads are tough as well, I’m not sure if their young guys are playing but hopefully Ross Horrocks is there for them.”
Tongue, who is based in Dubbo, is expecting the 2019 race will be just as enthralling as the last three Mudgee have managed to come out on top of.
He added the teams aspect of the tournament, and the benefit of playing at other courses on a regular basis, made the pennants competition a vital one for the CWDGA.
“Pennants holds the district together,” Tongue said, now in his third term as president of the CWDGA.
“It create that club camaraderie. Brings everyone together and with so many golfers getting around to other courses, it opens up the chance these guys might travel to other opens.
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“It’s important for the district.”
As has been the case in the last three seasons, no team will play at home. The groups have been pooled geographically.
“To do it other ways, it would mean some clubs travelling five hours to play a three-hour game of golf,” Tongue added.
“Clubs have been happy with it but in the past.”
OPENING ROUND – FEBRUARY 3
POOL A at Dubbo Golf Club:
Wellington v Duntryleague, Wentworth v Mudgee (in div 2, 3 and 4).
POOL B at Ex-Services Golf Club, Orange.
Bathurst v Cowra, Parkes v Forbes.