There’s nothing quite like the lure of the Volkswagen Scramble Championship Final to spark the fire within a PGA Professional’s heart and for Chris Duke, Darren Chivas and Andrew Grove another chance to visit the naturally refreshing Sunshine Coast was just the ticket. 

The Volkswagen Scramble Regional Finals kicked off on Monday 2 March with 12 events staged before COVID-19 restrictions brought the competition to a halt.

Among the many teams teeing it up around the country a select few had an advantage on hand – that of a PGA Professional who had played and won their way through to the coveted Championship Final at least once before to help steer their current teams to victory.

The South Australia Regional Final was held on the Wednesday 18 March where a double header was played at Mt Compass Golf Course. Barossa Valley Golf Club Professional Chris Duke saddled in for 36 holes, leading his home club’s team in the morning and a second team from Balaklava Golf Club as their PGA Professional.

In the morning field, Duke teamed up with Barossa Valley amateurs Rhys Lyons, Andrew Oats, Kay Oats and Don Oats to win by just .6 of a shot in a day to remember on the golf course.

“We started on the 8th hole, so after a pretty good start we had a few pars in the middle of the round,” Duke said.

“Kay and Rhys holed some great putts, Don was very steady and Andrew fired up on our back nine. We finished on the par 5 7th hole with an eagle 3 after a great approach to five feet from Andrew. When we holed that putt I knew that it was going to be close.”

The win will take the Barossa team’s amateur line-up to the Championship Final for the first time.

“We had managed to play a Regional Final previously however we didn’t really play well as a team,” said Rhys Lyons.

“This year we were a little more relaxed with Chris. We had plenty of laughs on the course and the whole day was a great experience. We look forward to representing the Barossa Valley at the Championship Final.”

Following a triumphant morning the afternoon field also finished in spectacular fashion with Duke joining the Balaklava Golf Club team of Peter King, Scott Davey, Derryn Schutz and Luke Little.

With a win within reach for the team it was a chip in for eagle from team leader Duke on the last hole that secured his second victory for the day, this time by just .4 of a shot.

“All four of us made good drives down the middle but ‘The Duke’ smoked us all with a great drive,” recalled amateur Scott Davey.

“Luke and Pete both hit great shots that just went through the back of the green. I put a reasonable putt to the hole giving us a pretty straight forward birdie chance. Pete gave his putt a good run but then true to form ‘The Duke’ stood up with a wedge and mentioned he had a good feeling about this. 

“As soon as his chip left the club it had our interest, once it hit the green he was already chasing after it, when it fell in for eagle to say the boys were a bit excited was a massive understatement. It was a sensational way to finish and to then find out we won by less than half a shot was unreal.”

Duke’s Volkswagen Scramble Championship Final and Regional Final experience played a key role in achieving back-to-back wins on the day. 

“I have been playing the Scramble Regional Final for the last ten years and I have been fortunate enough to have played in five winning Regional Final teams and made the Championship Final twice,” Duke said.

“I have always enjoyed helping out other clubs as an adopt a pro to give their members a great experience.”

Following a tough year in the Barossa with record temperatures and drought Duke thanked everyone involved in the Scramble event that helped provide a much needed release for the community. 

“Massive thank you to everyone who put this event together, it is a great relationship builder for our club. It brings golfers from surrounding golf clubs to play at our facility and helps us showcase our course, after a strenuous summer it has helped in getting people to want to play golf again,” Duke said.

In New South Wales, Goulburn Golf Club Head PGA Professional Andrew Grove is also no stranger to the Volkswagen Scramble Championship Final and its qualifying process. Previously making it all the way to the Sunshine Coast as an amateur, Grove has now made it through as a PGA Professional and hopes to lead his team all the way to the end.

“I actually qualified through to the Championship Final before I started my PGA Traineeship and was just an amateur golfer at Royal Pines Golf Club. It is pretty amazing that I get to return to one as a PGA Professional,” Grove said.

The Goulburn Golf Club team comprising of Mark Griffin, Ricky Goodwin, Douglas Webster and Noel Ottaway posted a net score of 52.9 to win the ACT Regional Final.

“I knew we were in for a good day when one of the boys holed a 30 foot putt on our first hole of the day,” Grove said.

“It was great to get the win today with a team of local Goulburn members. Everyone did their part and worked hard for the win. I’m very proud of these boys.”

Everglades Country Club Head PGA Professional Darren Chivas and his Scramble team were given reason to celebrate at the NSW Regional Final when they made it through to the Championship Final for the second consecutive year.

Chivas teamed up with Jason Clifford, Trent Mullen, James Sharpe and Jaben Ryan to post a net score of 52.1 to win the Regional Final at Kooindah Waters Golf Club.

“We were really pleased with the result today, it feels like someone is watching over me now that we have gone back-to-back,” Chivas said.

“I am definitely looking forward to going away with the boys. They are all members and are thrilled to be representing the club at the Championship Final. Hopefully this time we will achieve some success and get a win.”

The Volkswagen Scramble Championship Final has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Final will be rescheduled for later in the year with a date yet to be determined. For more information visit www.vwscramble.com.au.