LES Bennett knows every blade of grass at the Singleton Golf Club.
And, so he should after spending the past three decades as the club’s pro.
That milestone, for Les and wifeDi, was recently recognised by the organisation, who hosted a specialfunction to honour the pair.
ON PAR: Singleton Golf Club pro Les Bennett recently celebrated 30 years at the local course.
“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years,” he said.
“I started my apprenticeship at the Steelworks Golf Club at Shortland in 1977 and qualified as a pro in 1980.
“I worked as the assistant pro there from 1980 to 1985 – before taking up the role in Singleton in December, 1985.
“I wanted to get out on my own,possibly at a country course.
“Then I found Singleton; and it’s been quite rewarding.
“I liked the layout of the course, the whole atmosphere.
“I’m happy to stay here and do what I do.”
Les said there were a number of things, which drew him to the town.
“Back then, Singleton was a great option for Di and myself,” he told The Argus.
“I didn’t know much about the place, but I once played a junior tournament here.
MILESTONE: Di and Les Bennett.
“I also saw council promoting the area – and it appealed to us.
“As well, at the time, there was talk of a new 18-hole course being built.
“However, that never eventuated.
“It’s one of my regrets – that Singleton doesn’t have its own 18-hole course.”
Despite the popularity of the sport throughout the world, Les admits there are “good and bad days”.
“Surprisingly, our membership increases and decreases in line with the coal industry,” he said.
“We get caught up in the boom periods and slumps, too.
“I think most of the town does.
“But, we’re mindful of doing things to help the community.
“Five years after I started here, we hosted a charity golf day for Ronald McDonald House (RMHC).
“Now, we have them for RMHC, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, mining companies and many other businesses.
“They’re terrific occasions – and the members really get behind them.
“On top of that, those days benefit local people.”
As for the course – and game – itself, it’s still evolving, according to Les.
“We’ve got five new greens, as well as the dam,” he said.
“The current Board is very proactive; they’re working to improve different holes so golfers don’t get bored.
“You always want something new andchallenging.
“And, while the alterations to club design, size and technology, as well as balls, have beenmassive, it hasn’t really affected scores at a club level.
“We’ve also changed the way we do things here at Singleton.
“We have up to 10 volunteer workers who help the greenkeeper, which is great.”
Les, who spent time on the n pro tour from 1983 to 1990 with the likes of Ian Baker Finch, Peter Fowler and Mike Harwood, said it was the challenge of the game that kept people coming back.
“You never hit a round the same,” he said.
“There are many things that come into play.
“You can also learn a lot about a person by the way they conduct themselves on the course – it shows a lot about their character.”