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A golfing young gun making a big mark on the game

RISINGSTAR:Thirteen-year-old Ben Austin enjoys his golf.
RISINGSTAR:Thirteen-year-old Ben Austin enjoys his golf.

By TONY WHITE

YOUNG South Grafton High School student Ben Austin has taken to golf like a duck to water.

After just eight months, the 13-year-old has reduced his handicap from 27 to 12 and according to Grafton District Golf Club resident professional, Mark Harvison, has a great future in the game.

While still a novice, Austin has already shown a distinct knack when it comes to competitive golf.

He has played in three nine-hole cadet tournaments and has won them all.

At Armidale he shot a gross 52 to beat a field of 30-plus golfers, at Glen Innes he shot 47 and at Ballina 47 against 40 other cadet golfers from around the north coast.

"I'm aiming to get my handicap down further and go in some 18-hole competitions," Austin said. "My next main competition is the Grafton Junior Classic is June."

Austin was chuffed winning his three events and the booty that went with it.

"At Armidale I won BMX hats, tees and balls, at Ballina a new golf bag and at Glen Innes an 18 hole counter," he said. "It was really good.

"I practice just about every day, we don't live far from the golf course, and get lessons off Mark (Harvison) every Wednesday."

Harvison, who has put the polish on many of the Clarence Valley's best young golfers, said Austin's work ethic and his willingness to learn stood him in good stead.

"Ben is a terrific kid and at this early stage he is very promising," Harvison said.

"While Ben has started later than others like Matt Worthing, Shane Hayman and Paul Saunders, all PGA members now, he could very easily develop.

"If he keeps practising the way he does he'll be a solid single marker within two years.

"He has a very good demeanour, a good work ethic and etiquette.

"He's a happy go lucky type kid."

Austin first took up golf at very young age but gave it away to play rugby.

"My brother Michael was working as greenkeeper at Grafton and I started hitting balls but decided to play rugby and didn't come back to golf until last year," Austin said. "Now it's golf, golf and golf. I love it.

"I'd like to have a swing like Adam Scott one day."