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June 22, 2024 3:12 AM

Eli continues family tradition

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BY ALEX TIGANI

Eli Smith will be one of the juniors flying the flag for Singleton next week.

He has spent countless hours practicing his golf at the Singleton Golf Club and will now be participating in his first Jack Newton International tournament at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley golf course this Tuesday.

“I practise nearly every day in my backyard, mostly chipping,” he told The Hunter River Times.

“I’m still working on my putting the most.”

Many within the walls of the Singleton Golf Club know the nine-year-old is a fourth-generation golfer, the proud great grandson of former club president Mal Newman.

However not everyone is aware of the family’s initial journey to the club.

When Mal moved to Singleton with his family for work in 1980, the town’s new 18-hole golf course had been a motivating factor.

His children had grown up at the Wagga Country Club, attending clinics run by long-standing pro Ian Ferguson, around the same time a young Steve Elkington (1995 PGA Championship winner) was also perfecting his early skills.

Mal, who also played at Wagga City Club at Moorong, decided Singleton was the place to be.

“One of the factors we rang up and we were told that we had an 18-hole golf course under construction and within 18 months it would be complete at Gowrie,” Mal reflected.

“Though Gowrie did not eventuate, this club has been nearly 80% of our lives since I got transferred from Wagga to open the ANZ bank on October 1st that year.”

An interested Eli listened on to his family’s history before continuing his practise on Sunday morning.

“Gran Pop has been president of the golf club and our family has been members for 42 years,” Mark Newman explained.

“Pop has been the captain of the golf club, Gran Nan Elma Newman has been the A-Grade ladies champion a couple of times.”

Mal smiled and revealed that it was his secret agenda to have his whole family playing golf.

His third eldest son Leigh is currently a professional at the Kurri Kurri Golf Club while even his granddaughter Brittany, Eli’s mother, was regular junior champion.

After making his club championship debut at the age of eight, Eli knows he will continue to make his family proud this month.

“His 45 handicap has gone down to about 33 so he is playing well at this point in time,” Mark concluded.

The sporting genes in the family are not just bound to the course either after Mark was re-signed as the Singleton Greyhounds first grade coach this week while Eli’s sister Lexie continues to showcase her skills on the netball court.

“I score the goals in netball and Eli sinks the holes in golf, that’s why we’re sister and brother,” she concluded.

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