16 Oct 2023 | Amateur golf |

Home course knowledge will help at AAC, says Herbert

by Martin Blake

RMGC image
Royal Melbourne has its challenges. Photo: RMGC

Knowledge of The Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s Composite Course should be an advantage for the Australians playing the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship next week, according to touring pro Lucas Herbert.

Herbert played three AAC events before turning professional, including the 2014 iteration at RM. He was tied for eighth that year, and his love of Royal Melbourne is undiminished.

“I was just in Napa a couple of weeks ago talking to Geoff Ogilvy and we had some pretty good discussions about Royal Melbourne and how it's just a venue that brings out the best players in the field that way,” he said.

“It brings out the best shot-making, it brings out the best tactical challenge.

"When you see an event come to Melbourne, you want to you want it to be on Royal Melbourne.

“I think it's a great home-side advantage for the Australians.

"There's just not going to be a lot of other players throughout the world that play that style of golf where the ball's on the ground a lot and you've got to use your tactical sort of brain to think your way around the course a lot."

Ten Australians are in the field for the prestigious event from October 26-29, all vying for the victory that would give them a start in the Masters and the Open Championship for 2024.

One of them, Lukas Michel, spent some years caddying for members there.

A budding course architect, Melburnian Michel regards RM as a world top-five course and says that it has stood the test of time despite technological advances available to players.

“I think firmness is the biggest challenge for good players,” said Michel.

"When the ball is bouncing, players don't have control of it and it bounces a lot at Royal Melbourne.

"Melbourne's a windy city as well, so there's a fair bit of wind and the greens are quick too generally with a lot of slope on them.

"So just getting the ball close is really difficult and if you miss the greens, it's probably one of the toughest places anyway to get up and down.”

World No. 57 Herbert concurs that while RM is generous off the tee, there are dangers lurking everywhere around the green complexes.

“The greens are firm and the wind blowing it all, and the nerves are up on that third and fourth rounds,” he said.

“They're just really tricky shots to get right and you can be made to look very, very silly not doing a hell of a lot wrong."

The Australian invitees in 2023 are: Jeffrey Guan (NSW); Jack Buchanan (SA); Lukas Michel (Vic); Connor Fewkes (WA); Quinnton Croker (Qld); Max Charles (Vic); Harry Bolton (ACT); Jye Pickin (NSW); Jasper Stubbs (Vic); and Harry Takis (Qld).

As the host nation, Australia will lead the list of 41 countries represented with 10 players in this year’s field. Three Australians have previously won the championship, including Harrison Crowe last year.

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