Harvo handles pressure at last
GREG Harvison's name appears at least 10 times in the runner-up column on the club championship honour board at the Grafton District Golf Club.
As of Saturday, his name will also appear as a winner of the championship after more than 20 years of trying.
Harvison overcame nerves and a stern challenge from defending champion Grant Rickwood to clinch the 2009 championship by a single stroke with a four-round total of 291.
The 48-year-old, who moved to Grafton in 1982, entered the fourth and final round with a slender two-shot lead over Rickwood.
Rickwood played early on Saturday, carding a one-over par 72.
“They told me Rickwood's score before I teed off. I knew I needed 73 or better to win,” Harvison said.
Despite boasting decades of golfing experience - including winning consecutive club championships as a 14- and 15-year-old at Narrandera on the NSW South Coast - Harvison admitted to feeling the pressure on Saturday.
“Absolutely, I was nervous all the way around,” the four-marker said.
“The nerves are worse than ever now.
“Your swing seems to change when you feel the pressure. It's a matter of keeping your swing consistent and doing what has been working for you.”
Harvison's start belied the fact he was feeling tense.
He birdied three of the first five holes. However, he made consecutive bogeys on the always difficult seventh hole and another on the eighth, before making par on the ninth to go out in one-under par 35.
Only nine holes stood between Harvison and his first Grafton club championship, and on the back nine, the nerves began to show. He failed to make a birdie on the incoming nine.
He had bogeys at 13 and 14, but steadied the round with three pars.
Coming to the par five 18th, Harvison knew a six would clinch the title.
And that's the score he made for a championship-winning round of 73. Harvison was also the handicap winner across all grades, with a nett 275 for the four rounds.
Had it not been for a golfer by the name of Graham Dewberry, the winner of 21 club championships, Saturday's triumph would not have been Harvison's first Grafton title.
At the peak of his golfing powers, Harvison, who at one time was a scratch marker, had the misfortune of playing in the same era as Dewberry at his best.
Dewberry beat Harvison in two club championship play-offs, and relegated him to runner-up on at least eight other occasions.
The realist in Harvison thought his time to win a championship had well and truly passed.
“Without a doubt,” Harvison said.
“The length of the young fellas coming through, I'm nowhere near it. Rickwood hits it 50 yards longer than me.
“I can't reach any of the par fives in two any more, Rickwood hits irons into them.”
Harvison's sporting skills have not been confined to the golf course. He was a very handy Australian rules footballer before moving to Grafton, and for many years played with and captained the Grafton Vikings basketball team when the sport was at its zenith in the town.
His club championship win will be popular in Grafton's golfing fraternity.
The Harvison family has a long and proud affiliation with the club. And it's an ongoing one.
Greg's brother Mark is the club professional; his father Jack held numerous executive roles at the club and still plays despite two hip reconstructions (Greg calls him the 'bionic golfer'); brother Paul worked behind the bar for many years and was a single-figure handicapper, and; his mother Marcia and other brother Peter remain active playing members.