When the innovative Queensland Outback Masters tees off in mid-June, 61-year Roma local Steve Outen says it will be a matter of ‘when in Roma, do as the Romans do’.
With 2019 dedicated as The Year of Outback Tourism in Queensland, the State Government in partnership with Golf Australia has launched an innovative, multi-location golf event aimed at driving tourists into Outback Queensland.
And, as a finale to the six-venue event, the inaugural Outback Queensland Masters will offer a $1 million hole-in-one challenge in Mt Isa.
Queensland’s inaugural Outback Masters will start in Roma on 17-18 June and visit Charleville (22-23 June), Longreach (29-30 June), Winton (13-14 June) and Boulia (22-23 June), before finishing in Mount Isa on 26-28 July. Each event will take the form of two nine-hole rounds, played over consecutive days, including a novelty hole at each location that connects to a local tourism experience.
And despite the recent lengthy drought, Roma Golf Cub Club’s acting Greens Director, Steve Outen, says the course will present an intriguing challenge to the golfers who make the trip west.
“It’s a par 72 course with the standard four par threes, four par fives and 10 par fours but, at 6263 metres, is a little longer than most courses,” he said.
“That’s because of the run we get out here. We have grass tees and grass greens but, because of the drought, the fairways are very dry and the run is amazing. Hopefully, by June, there will have been some rain and things will green up somewhat.”
But Steve is adamant golfers heading west for the Outback Masters will enjoy the visit for more reasons than just the two nine-hole rounds of golf.
“I am probably biased, but I doubt there is a friendlier golf club in Queensland – maybe even the world,” enthused the local truckie.
“Our club, our town and our district just love seeing visitors. We have so much to see out here that is different to the usual attractions of the city, and the coast. And once visitors make that first visit, they almost always come back again.”
Steve named among the ‘must-see’ local attractions the Carnarvon National Park and Gorge, the Big Rig Gas and Oil Museum, artesian baths at nearby Mitchell and the largest cattle sales complex in the southern hemisphere.
“And we have a host of accommodation at hotels, motels and caravan parks, although sleeping under the stars out here is an experience few will forget,” he said.
When launching the Queensland Outback Masters in January, Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said hundreds of amateur golfers were expected to visit Outback Queensland for the event and she encouraged them to extend their stay beyond the days spent on the golf course.
“This is a great way to experience Outback Queensland, travelling to each event and exploring that region’s unique tourism offerings. From the rugged national parks and stunning gorges, to World Heritage-listed fossil fields, historic towns and iconic pubs, we want people to get out and experience Outback Queensland,” she said.
Golf Australia Chief Executive Stephen Pitt applauded the innovative concept which he said would not just shine a spotlight on some great regional Queensland centres, but also on golf courses that may not be famous, but have great appeal.
“Whether they’re on sand or grass greens, the courses the Outback Queensland Masters fields will play are unique and a great representation of golf being a welcoming cornerstone of communities around Australia,” he said.
“I’m sure the rounds, courses and club experiences in each centre will be something participants will remember fondly for years.”
– TONY DURKIN