SLADE Palmer sat his VCE English exam yesterday, but he regards the final two rounds of the Warrnambool Golf Club A grade championship a more important test.
The 19-year-old, who wants to pursue a professional golf career, enters tomorrow’s third round one shot behind two-time winner Alistair Gillin.
Palmer, who grew up with golf in his blood, sees Warrnambool’s top prize as a step towards his ultimate goal.
He first picked up a club when he was eight and, under the watchful eyes of his father Scott and grandfather Peter, both single-figure handicappers, began honing his game at Mortlake Golf Club.
“I was interested in cricket and football more,” the Mortlake resident said.
“I really started playing golf when I was 12 and then got serious at the start of this year.”
The two-handicapper, who got as low as scratch during the year before VCE studies limited his practice, said his father and grandfather had played a big part in him taking up the game.
“They saw me pick up a club and thought I swung it pretty good and they introduced me to twilight competitions and then I was beating them,” he said.
Palmer still loves playing a round with them, despite being a member at both Warrnambool and Curlewis Golf Club on the Bellarine Peninsula.
“It’s always fun to beat my dad and my pa,” he said.
“It’s even better to take money off them. It’s not anything serious but it’s always fun.”
Palmer said he had juggled school, social and golfing commitments this year. He said at the start of the year he wanted to improve his game.
“Warrnambool got me up a level, but then I wanted to take my golf up to another level, so I joined Curlewis,” he said.
He played division one pennant for the club and enjoyed an undefeated season before representing the Geelong region at country week championships.
Palmer carded rounds of 74 and 77 in the Warrnambool championships last weekend but rues his run home in Sunday’s round.
“I bogeyed the last six. I just lost focus on the last six holes on Sunday. I was picturing what I was going to say next weekend and not focusing on my golf,” he said.
“I came into the week just wanting to have fun and be the best I could. I didn’t ever picture myself being in second place or contention. It was never in my thoughts. But now I’m determined to win. Hopefully I can use that determination to help me.”
Palmer, who dreams about beating his idols, former Warrnambool golfer Marc Leishman and Tiger Woods, on the biggest stage, said he wanted to either pursue a professional traineeship next year or attend an American college and play golf.
Palmer knows he has a big task ahead this weekend, with Gillin a proven performer and three-time winner Brian McKenzie, who is four shots off the lead, snapping at his heels.