IN a rare feat, a player from Perth has won the men’s competition at this year’s Maccabi Golf National Championships, which came to a thrilling climax on March 4 after three days of play at Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Ian Schwartz did enough in windy conditions – on unfamiliar courses more than 3,500km from home – to score 107 points in the three-round, handicap-based tournament to finish two points ahead of Victorian Gary Slezak.
Victorians Earle Sacher and Arnie Prince finished equal third on 103 points.
“As far as I know, I am the first West Australian to win this event,” Schwartz said, “and I certainly didn’t go into it expecting to win.
“Having had a good round on day one at the Sorrento course, I was only one shot off the pace.
“I was hitting the ball well on day two but I must have left my putter in the fridge as it did not work for me, and I finished five shots behind the leaders, which I did not think was possible to make up.
“The third round was played at the beautiful but difficult Moonah Links course and I played well, but came in with 35 points, which I believed wasn’t going to be enough.
“To my surprise, when I heard the scores of the leading group, I worked out I had a good chance.
“I think the key for me was focusing on enjoying the event, which was well-organised, and I look forward to defending my title next year.”
Schwartz, who was president of the Maccabi WA Golf Club for a decade, said it is a close-knit club of about 50 active members, who mostly play at Perth’s Mount Lawley course.
“I’m pleased to say that a younger generation has taken over running the committee and they are doing a fantastic job.”
The women’s competition also had a thrilling finale, with Victorian Lesley Silberscher finishing on 108 points, just one point in front of NSW’s Glenda Gordon and 10 points ahead of Jody Drutman (NSW).