On a road trip through Queensland, more than 140 golfers swung, sliced and putted their way through the world’s most remote and richest amateur golf series.
Story Paula Heelan Photo Reuben Nutt
It’s mid-morning at the Quilpie Golf Club in south-west Queensland. Not far from the banks of the Bullo River, the fairways are lined with gidgee, red river gum and bloodwood trees and speckled with mulga shrub. Mobs of corellas are squawking and swooping above trickling watercourses, lizards are lurking in crumbly, red earth and kangaroos are looking on from a distance. It’s a classic outback scene that’s becoming familiar to the Outback Queensland Masters (OQM) 2021 tournament players. This weekend is the series’ third round.
Here, on the Quilpie golf course, something astonishing has unfolded. David Pennell from Murrumbidgee Country Club, in the ACT, made a hole-in-one and bagged a $10,000 prize. Word spread quickly around the course and onto national media. With the odds of an amateur making a hole-in-one at 12,500 to one, the OQM’s thrill factor just shot through the roof. David achieved what every other player is striving for. The event offers a $10,000 hole-in-one prize on designated holes on every golf course – and, in Longreach, a staggering $1 million is up for grabs. David, who is on the 1900km journey with his wife Karen, says it was his first hole-in-one in 51 years of playing golf. “The sand greens are so different to the grass greens we play on – I can’t believe it’s happened,” he says.
This year the golf tour began in Biloela, followed by Charleville, Quilpie, Blackall and Hughenden, before concluding in Longreach. Players of all ages and abilities (the youngest 12, the oldest 84) are taking part and while some choose not to play in all six weekend rounds, most do. In every town, the first nine holes are played on Saturday and the second nine on Sunday. In between the events, players and travelling partners tour the region.
This story excerpt is from Issue #140
Outback Magazine: December/January 2022