Thursday 15 October 2009
Mr FINCH (Rosevears)  - Many male members in this House with sons will be all too aware that it becomes difficult to maintain that early close bond between father and son through, sometimes, the teenage years and later.  It is natural for some sons to want some distance between themselves and their fathers as they become more independent.  In some cases it can be painful and quite damaging.  One possible solution is to share a strong common interest such as sport participation.  Team sports can be a bit of a problem.  If you can imagine a strapping 18-year-old tackling his 40-something-year-old father, it is a fairly predictable result if rugby is chosen as the bonding agent.  Australian Rules Football is likely to lead to some humiliation too, although you do often hear of stories of sons being old enough to play with their dads, probably in the seconds and that sort of thing.  So team sport bonding for most might not work and perhaps it has to be one-on-one; tennis, lawn bowls or maybe darts.

The suggestion coming from my community is that golf is the preferred bonding agent to keep fathers and sons together.  This has been recognised by Launceston's Eric Roberts.  Eric started organising father-and-son amateur golf tournaments in October 2006.  He had seen their success in the United States of America where he used to live and work as a diplomat, and they are also very popular in Ireland.

His first father-and-son golf championship in Launceston was a 36-hole aggregate stableford event open to all fathers and sons and also grandfathers and grandsons who hold their current AGU handicap.  Eric gained the backing of Events Tasmania and gave himself three years to see how the concept would work out.  Each year has seen increased numbers, including many visitors travelling from interstate to come to Tasmania for this tournament.  Eric says that when he became interested in the idea he was surprised that a national father-and-son tournament had never been done before in Australia. 

This fourth annual Father and Son Amateur Golf Championship is going to be held at the Launceston Country Club from 11 to 13 December this year.  Eric has formed a partnership between Australia - I suppose it is Tasmania - and the United Kingdom European Father and Son organisation so that winners this year of the Launceston tournament are invited to compete in Spain.  That will occur in October each year.  Eric, who in fact takes golf tours to the United States of America and to other countries, is encouraging fathers and sons to go to this event in Europe.  It really would be quite an event.  It is in less than two weeks' time and it is at Greg Norman's Port Aventura golf resort on the Costa Daurada.  There is a special deal including accommodation for 700 pounds sterling each so it would be really a great way for fathers and sons to bond.

These teams that come to Tasmania come from interstate and overseas and they will discover what a fabulous destination Tasmania is for golf.  On the Discover Tasmania web site they talk about Adventure Island.  We have, and this will surprise a lot of people, more than 80 golf courses in Tasmania with a diversity of sites.

Mr Aird - Have we not more per head of population than anywhere else in Australia?

Mr FINCH - That is right, and very popular indeed as a pastime here in Tasmania.  We have golf courses set in rainforests, rural landscapes, and dramatic dunes, of course, and I know at Barnboogle they are building even a second -

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - The lost farm course it is called.

Mr FINCH - The lost farm course.  We have also cliff-top holes and mountain vistas.  In fact there is one at the Tasman Club at Storm Bay near Port Arthur where the par 3 eighth hole has a 136-yard carry over a gorge dubbed 'The Chasm', and it could see your ball actually falling 100 feet - or is that 30 metres? - into ocean waves.

Mr Wing - The oldest golf course in the Southern Hemisphere.

Mr FINCH - The oldest golf course is at Ratho Links and that was established by Scottish settlers before 1840 and the Australian Golf Museum is there.  I can see that these visitors, through Events Tasmania, are going to come here for a father-and-son tournament, see what a great destination Tasmania is for golf, and I am sure they are going to come back for that event and perhaps even for more.  Madam President, my congratulations to Eric Roberts for this initiative that must surely grow and continue to provide that opportunity for the all-important bonding between fathers and sons, plus that fillip to Tasmanian tourism.  Thanks for your support.