22 Sep 2020 | Amateur golf |

Player Profiles - Stephen Valentine & Heather Harley

by Golf Australia

Stephen Valentine & Heather Harley_image
Stephen Valentine & Heather Harley

Golf Australia caught up with Stephen Valentine and Heather Harley to see how they are managing their lock-down journeys and reflect on two very successful senior golfing careers.

1. What is your current GA handicap and where are you a member?

SV: 3.4 and Kew Golf Club

HH: 6.4 and Kooringal Golf Club

2. How long have you been competing in the senior events?

SV: 6 years. I have managed to compete in 88 Victorian events and travel interstate for 16 events as well.

HH: Over 10 years now. I transitioned from part-time employment to full time retirement. I was excited to be able to play more golf and challenge myself on different courses. I also play in many other Victorian events and have met great people, eventually extended my range and travelling interstate to compete.

3. What is one of the funniest moments you can recall playing in the senior events?

SV: Kerry Boehm's acceptance of a special prize for his albatross at the 1st hole at Victoria Golf Club. His celebratory squawk was definitely Jurassic!

HH: I was playing in the Lang Lang Senior Amateur, a nice course cut into the bush on the edge of Melbourne. My playing partner Sue and I were discussing what an excellent day we had on a beautifully presented course with fantastic weather and hospitality from the staff. To top off the day, we sat down do a delicious lunch roast put on by the members of the club. Sue was so impressed she went home and spoke glowingly about her day to her husband, convincing him to attend the next year based on the magnificent roast to finish the day. He played and had an ordinary day scoring wise but went into the club ready for his lunch but sadly there was a different lunch, enjoyable as always but not the roast he was expecting! You win some and lose some on the golf course!

4. What do you view as your greatest achievement?

SV: I turned to golf in my 50s and I have had unexpected success in the senior amateur ranks, resulting in wonderful representative experiences. Combined with a little coaching and commitment to practice the game has come to me with the GA tournament calendar providing the perfect outlet for my competitive side.

Being selected in the Victorian team for the 2019 Australian Senior Championships at Maroochy River last year was a great honour for me. Representing Victoria alongside Colin George, Gordon Claney and Greg Rhodes "raised the stakes" for sure. It was with great excitement (and huge relief) when we all finished well on the final day to come from behind and win the teams event. The ADF matches in March have been rewarding representative experiences also. The opportunity and privilege to play in the ADF event drives my whole season.

HH: Just being able to travel and play on all different styles of golf course, looking to maintain my handicap as low as i can (getting more difficult as time goes on!). Meeting players of all different abilities and learning about how things happen at their club and learning how different people manage their way around individual golf courses. Sometimes you can get fortunate and gather some trophies but in reality I feel very fortunate to able to play my sport of choice.

5. What is the greatest performance of your own or you have witnessed whilst competing?

SV: I have witnessed some great golf from players in my groups over the years. Some that spring to mind include John Kelly's perfect play around Victoria GC in 2017, David Robb in the Sorrento Senior Amateur in 2018 when he overtook myself and Gordon Claney in the last three holes and Mark Abeyaratne shooting five-under on the front nine at Sorrento early this year in a 4BBB match against the ADF team.

Other memorable moments include Kerry Boehm's amazing three-under at Gardiners Run in 2018 and Kevin Naismith earlier this year posting a brilliant 67. The 2018 Doug Bachli was a fantastic contest between Ian McCleary and Geoff Charnley, going right to the final event with Geoff winning by a mere handful of points.

HH: Last year's Victorian Senior Amateur Championship at Barwon Heads & 13th Beach springs to mind when Kerrin Biddle and Jacqui Morgan battled all the way to the very last hole. It was great golf on a great golf course! 6. How have you found isolation?

SV: I have been hitting lots of plastic practrice balls on the park opposite my house as well as chipping in my backyard as I am dreaming of tournaments returning! I have also estabished a daily exercise program to counteract the extra food and wine that seems to have appeared in the house.

HH: What a challenge! I am fortunate to live opposite a suburban football ground which has cricket nets installed, allowing me practice my putting on these surfaces. I regularly meet with girls from my home club (Kooringal Golf Club) for walks, bike riding and making sure we stay in touch. I recently broke my wrist so the lounge room is my putting venue, practicing my one handed grip!

7. What is your favourite event on the calendar?

SV: Every event is a privilege to play. The host clubs make special efforts to prepare their courses for us and I enjoy the company and competition from all the players. Perhaps the Cranbourne Senior Amateur, a fantastic course in great condition when we play there in February, attracting a strong field. I will always have a soft spot for Tocumwal where I managed my first victory back in 2016.

HH: With almost all of the Victorian senior events available to men and women, I find it very difficult to narrow it down to a favourite. In saying that, both the Moyne Senior Classic played at Port Fairy Golf Club and the Warrnambool Senior Amateur alongside the Victorian Senior Amateur are great weeks. It is tough at times to keep your game firing for the entire week but the social opportunities are great anyway. Warrnambool and Moyne provide unique challenges with differing course styles and spectacular views, combined with tricky weather conditions creating a fantastic challenge for players. The Victorian Senior Amateur is such a great event played on quality courses with quality fields and both the men and women competing at the same time and on the same course.

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