It was a family affair for three-time PGA Tour of Australasia winner Dimi Papadatos in the Junior Pro-Am at the AVJennings NSW Open today.
The initiative is in its fifth year and saw 63 young golfers from around the state tee up alongside some of Australia’s best professionals at the Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club.
Papadatos, who finished in the top 10 at the tournament last year, played alongside 16-year-old cousin Ethan Harvey who was representing The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney.
A plus one marker, Ethan has been playing the game for eight years after being introduced to it by his dad but is hoping to follow in his cousin’s footsteps.
“It’s been great to be able to talk to him (Papadatos) about some of his tournament preparations and how he deals with pressure in certain situations,” Ethan says of Papadatos.
“I’d like to do what he does for a living and to have the opportunity to ask him about certain things is good.
“I’m pretty lucky.”
For his part, Papadatos says while he doesn’t get to play with Ethan as much as he’d like because of his international schedule, he’s impressed with the teenager’s improvement in recent years.
“He’s got a great coach in Warwick Dews, and he’s come along a lot in the last couple of years,” he says.
“He’s better than I was at that age and if he keeps improving the way he has been, he’ll be a really good player.
“I don’t get to play with him as often as I’d like because I’m away so much, but we talk on the phone sometimes if he needs some advice or if he’s struggling.”
The Junior Pro-Am initiative is unique to the AVJennings NSW Open, and a Golf NSW events co-ordinator Nicole Bessant said it had been a big success since its inception in 2015.
“It’s a pretty important part of what we do, and the NSW Open is a great vehicle for it,” he said.
“The idea isn’t to identify elite talent or future stars but to encourage those kids who are on the verge of being bitten by the bug and becoming golfers for life.
“Club members and lifelong players are the lifeblood of the game. The more people we can help to nurture in that direction, the better.
“Without grassroots golf, there is no elite golf, and if the chance to play with somebody the calibre of Dimi Papadatos or Jordan Zunic is the tipping point to becoming a committed player, then we’ve done our job.”