The Masters Pennant :: History
It all started back in 1980 when I was playing Major Pennants for Woolooware against Eastlakes. The match being played at Cronulla Golf Club.
Joe Tierney was my caddy, he had injured his arm and was unable to play.
Eastlakes were going through a rough patch at this time, all their good young players had left the club, and they had difficulty fielding a team.
I noticed this older fellow with hunched shoulders standing around the tee area. I thought he was a spectator or an official but when I was called to the tee and introduced he was my opponent. His name being Doug Brown. I walked back across to Joe rather deflated and said “I don’t feel like playing, just look who I’m playing”.
The first hole as expected I won with an easy par and Doug was no where to be seen, although I certaintly saw him on the next hole because we halved the damned thing in birdies.The 3rd hole being a par 5, I hit the green with my second shot, Doug conceded an eagle to me. This made me 3 under par technically, and after the 5th hole I was 2 under par and 1 up on Doug. This fellow was some golfer. He didn’t hit the ball very far but it was straight. He couldn’t reach the long par fours but was deadly with the wedge and putter. He made me change my game plan because at Cronulla if you went through you were in trouble. I played
to the front of the greens. I was desperately afraid of being the laughing stock of our team, the butt of many jokes if I was beaten by Doug. A golfer of his ability, this wasn’t out
of the question.
From my recollection I finally succeeded with much relief winning the match 3/2. On the way back to the club house Doug was joking with Joe saying there should be a handicap for us old fellows playing these young bucks, he even said,
“I should have played you Joe, not Darrl it would have been a fairer match”. At the clubhouse I sat down and reflected
on the match over a beer while Joe and Doug did a lot of talking. I couldn’t help but marvel at Doug’s ability on the
golf course and what a wonderful match it had been.
My thoughts drifted to Doug playing someone his own age, he surely would win that match on todays form. I then realised the idea to have a pennant series for older golfers. Golfers who have retired from major pennants and were
still good players with no where to go also it would give the opportunity for these players to meet some old foes and
late starters in the game the chance to develop and play
A grade pennants.
I decided not to say anything about this to anyone, but wait until the dinner which was held at the finish of the pennant series. The last match was held at Kogarah Golf Club and while having drinks prior to the dinner, as expected bird of
a feather flock together, I had these old Eastlake pennant players sitting at a table of their own and the older Woolooware players were also similarly, a nice distance apart.
I got myself a schooner of beer and sauntered across to
the Eastlakes players at their table. D Brown, F Parsons,
P Mackie and W Hawkins were seated and ripped into them. I told them they couldn’t play golf, couldn’t hit the ball out of sight in a dark night and I was sick and tired of their winging that the only reason they where being beaten was because the couldn’t field a stronger side. I said “just admit it, you can’t play golf, you’re hopeless”. At this point two of them started to stand up and push the table away towards me, quite threatening. Immediately to diffuse the situation I said “I could pick a team of old golfers from Woolooware that would smack your arse, you wouldn’t stand a chance they would mop the floor with you”. The challenge was accepted, they were certainly steamed up.
I approached our captain Bill Wright for a tee time but
he said he couldn’t accommodate this match and said it wouldn’t work anyway. It was at this time I was getting a
lot of knockers. Even the Eastlakes players were saying it wouldn’t work. Everyone was telling me it wouldn’t work.
My loan supporter was Eastlakes captain John Cantrall, a man who I have much respect for. He arranged the tee time for us at Eastlakes Golf Club, 1st June, 1980 at 10.00am.
I kept whipping up enthusiasm amongst the Woolooware players that were over 50. This was the age I decided was right. Because of shift work I had a bit of time which allowed me to play the courses in the Eastern Suburbs where I met the Eastlake players, giving me the opportunity to keep the pot boiling with them.
The day arrived and the players assembled at Eastlakes for the 10:00am hit off. I didn’t want to exclude anyone, whoever turned up had a game. It turned out there were 10 players on each side which included a reserve.
Photographs were taken prior to hit off. Eastlake and Woolooware have copies of these on their archives.
THE HISTORY AND FORMATION OF THE MASTERS PENNANT :: by Darryl Betts 1995
1981 the first
SENIOR MASTERS PENNANT
Woolooware Golf Club
Back row L-R
John Webb, Joe Tierney, Eric Fleming,
Brian Keane, Barry Smith, Eric Cowdroy,
John Wilson, Harry Purtle.
Front row L-R
Bill Wright (c), Darryl Betts (Manager),
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It was 10:00am and the match began. The Inaugural Past Masters Pennant Series, all the matches were played in fours, indeed quite good matches. The result of the match was a tie, Eastlakes 4½ and Woolooware 4½. It so happened that Jeff Lendrum and Noel Swanson had finished all square after 18 holes and neither would budge and go out and play the 19th hole for a result. So history says the first match finished in a draw…… a brilliant result!
Back in the clubhouse much festivities, drinking and celebrations were taking place. Many photographs were taken of players and officials. Both Eastlake and Woolooware have copies of these photographs in
Bill Marshall was in attendance, delegate to the NSW Golf Association and John Cantrall and I were talking to him
very excited about the response and success of The Past Masters match, Bill Marshall certainly dampened our enthusiasm because he said it just wouldn’t work, it
wouldn't get off the ground. I didn’t understand why he
was talking that way because I knew deep down this idea
I had for over 50’s to have their own pennant series would take off, sweep Australia and possibly the world.
We had a meeting at Eastlakes Golf Club on that day and drew uo a format to give this event some direction. It was decided the players must be over 50 years of age on the
day of play. It would be named the Past Masters Senior Pennant, all matches to be played in fours, and other clubs to be contacted would be Kogarah, Cronulla, Bexley and Beverley Park.
In 1981 the first pennant series was scheduled to play with teams Woolooware, Eastlakes, Kogarah, Bexley, Beverley Park and Cronulla.
Prior to the first series being played of course we had meetings. I attended the first meeting at Woolooware Golf Club, which George Young chaired. It was decided “Past” wasn’t a very nice name, no one likes to be past, so the word “Senior” was put in its place. The Event was now known as The Senior Masters Pennant.
At finish of the meetings, George Young said to me “it was a great thing that I had done. This idea was marvellous for golf and suggested there could be a cup named after me”. I was a little embarassed, although I was quite proud of the results of my efforts, but I must point out John Cantrall needs to be remembered also as he made his course available to us that day in June 1980.
The first series that was played in 1981 was very closely fought. There was never much in it, Woolooware were fortunate enough to nudge out Cronulla and be the first winners of The Senior Masters Pennant, a fitting result.
The players were ecstatic about this tournament and they themselves became the promoters, which has seen it grow to what it is today.
Brian Keane being a printer for the Sydney papers used his contacts through 1980, 1981 and 1982 to promote this event telling the story of its foundation and formation on how the idea of the event was first conceived in 1980.
I stayed on as non playing captain of the Woolooware team for 3 years. I found it difficult to have my self available at all times so I stood down as team captain and my involvement with the Senior Masters Pennant. I could see the tournament was in good hands. Joe Tierney went to the meetings in my place.
We all know that the tournament is now endorsed by the NSW Golf Association and to eliminate any other confusion with their other pennant series, it is now known as “The Masters Pennant”. Now reaching the age where I can play in my tournament which commenced 15 years ago at Eastlakes Golf Club I feel very honoured and proud to be playing in this event. I always had faith that this tournament designed for 50’s and over was going to be very successful.
I can’t express the thanks that I have to give to the committees that have nurchered this tournament in particular George Young and Joe Tierney for their efforts.
The committees from 1980 to this day have done a wonderful job in fulfilling my dreams for this event where old foes meet and golfers that have started late have a chance to participate.
To all the old foes when you meet, enjoy one another's company. To golfers that have started late, enjoy the event and play the game the way it should be played…… like gentlemen.
My best and sincere wishes.
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