The outstanding Kooyonga Golf Club – file photo Bruce Young

The new look Australian Amateur Championship began at the Kooyonga Golf Club this morning, a field of 105 men and 50 women entered to play the prestigious event which, for the first time, will be played in a 72-hole strokeplay format.

There has been a lot of discussion as to the relative merits of changing the format from the previous 36 hole qualifying followed by knockout rounds of match-play but the decision appears to have been driven by a desire by Golf Australia to focus much of their attention on preparing leading amateurs for a career in professional golf.

72 hole stroke-play events are a dime a dozen even in amateur golf and the traditional format made a nice departure from the norm and provided a format which truly tested the technical and mental strengths of leading amateurs.

The decision is a shame, really, as the more established and acknowledged amateur championships of the world including, the US Amateur Championship, the Amateur Championship (read British Amateur) and, yes, the Australian Amateur Championship have a lengthy history and tradition in the match play format.

Cameron Smith, Cameron Davis and Keita Nakajima are three recent winners of the men’s event who are already making their mark in professional golf tournaments and it will be interesting to see if the new format has a marked difference on future champions.

The defending champion in this week’s men’s event is Jed Morgan from the Royal Queensland Golf Club who won on his home course twelve months ago while the 2020 women’s champion Charlotte Heath of England is unable to defend her title.