Cobar’s Men’s Golf Captain Peter ‘China’ Brien has been playing golf in Cobar for the past 30 years and has served on the committee for 28 years.
In that time he’s seen some great golfers in Cobar and we asked him to name his Top 10.
“In my Top 10 I have included two golfers that, while in Cobar did not play a lot of competition golf, but I felt they could not be left out,” China said.
In picking his Top 10, China said he took into account performances in Cobar Open tournaments, Cobar Club Championships, NSW Sandreen titles, and at open tournaments around Western NSW.
“And their ability to win on grass greens as well as sand.
“Honesty forbids me from including myself in the top 10 I have selected,” China said.
At No 1, is Matt Egan, ‘Boof’: Matt’s meteoric rise began when he started playing competition golf as a 14 year old in 2005 with a 21 handicap. He turned up for his first game dressed like a Parramatta Eels ball boy.
Looking back now I can see why he found it so easy to focus on golf. Matt’s dedication to practice was impressive, before and after school every day. ANZAC Day 2007, Matt shot eight under par and just two shots later he won his first Cobar Open title defeating former Cobar champion Warrick Doulman in a playoff. Matt went on to defend his title the following year.
From 2007 Matt began winning Open tournaments around the western districts. The following year he won the Junior and Senior Sandgreen title and NSW QLD Sandgreen title.
It was around this time that Matt and his parents made the decision he would have to relocate to Dubbo to take his game to the next level, and brother Jay was left in Cobar to mow the lawns.
2009 was a big year for Matt. He came from five shots behind after the first day to go on and win the prestigious Macquarie Cup in Dubbo, shooting eight under par in the final round. Matt was R/U in the NSW school boys match play, R/U combined high school stroke play and member of NSW country rep team that beat Victoria that year.
The next year Matt moved to Sydney to play Pennant golf at top level but his social life became a distraction which led him to having a break from golf for a few years.
Matt made a comeback in 2014 winning numerous opens in the western districts including the WDGA Championship. The following year he played in 10 NSW Vardon amateur events finishing in the top 10 in all of them. One of those was a win in the Parkes Open. Matt’s last big win was in 2016 when he claimed his second Macquarie Cup in Dubbo. Matt got to a +3 HCP under the new handicap system and he would have been playing of +5 on the Cobar course.
No 2 is Jacob Ryan ‘Jake’: Jake is the current Club Champion. Since 2015 he’s held five titles. He has won three Cobar Opens and also won the NSW Sandgreen Championships in 2015 and 2018. In 2015 he won NSW Sandgreen 4BBB Championships title with his uncle, Michael Ryan, and in 2018 he teamed up with Tony Harding (Narromine) for the win.
Of the current golfers in Cobar, Jake is the man to beat.
Nobody hit the ball further than Jake and the rest of his game is not to bad either.
In 2007 Jake began playing competition golf as an 11 year old off a 32HCP. His current HCP is +2 when playing the Cobar Course. I’m sure he will continue to add to his tally of Cobar Championships and Open victories whilst he plays golf in Cobar.
Hopefully Jake is available to play in the WDGA Championships and Pennants in Gilgandra in October this year. The grass green Gilgandra Course is a challenge I’m sure hewould enjoy.
No 3 on the list is Craig Dillion ‘Porky’: The current Cobar course record that is held by Porky is astounding—10 under par set in 2001. Many have tried since to break this record, but to no avail.
Porky has won three Cobar Opens, eight championships, a NSW Sandgreen Championship and a NSW 4BBB Championship over the last 30 years. Craig would have played more open tournaments in the WDGA than any other golfer in Cobar. Craig moved to the Hunter Valley in 2016 for work but has continued to support Cobar Golf Club and other clubs in the WDGA with regular visits back to the area to play in their open tournaments. Probably the Gilgandra Open win in 2006 on grass greens was his best open win against a strong field which included two one markers and a three marker from Dubbo.
Don’t let his appearance deceive you, Craig is a natural sportsman.
In the No 4 spot is Andrew Bartlett ‘Bart’: A mining accident in 2006 brought a halt to Bart’s golf career. From the late eighties he was always one of the main contenders in open tournaments and club championships. Four Cobar Opens and seven Club Championships is proof of that. Andrew proved you do not have to be a big guy to hit the ball a long way. If Bart had a fault, he would get down on himself and occasionally his clubs. Something he could have picked up from Jeff ‘ Agro’ Smith in the eighties.
Number 5 on the list is Jason Lawrence ‘Lawro’: Before 1990 Jason had already claimed a Cobar Open and two Club Championships. He went onto claim one more Cobar Open and four more Club Championships after I arrived in town. Jason had a solid all round game, his iron play in particular was very good. He won his last Club Championship in 2008 and left town shortly after.
Sitting in at No 6 is Greg Read ‘Reedy’: Greg has the distinction of being the first male golfer to win NSW Sandgreen championships and in 2006. He won the Cobar Open in 2005 and the Club Championships in 2003.
Greg would have been one of the most laid back golfers I have played golf with. Greg has a strong game tee to green, unfortunately his putting left a lot to be desired. It cost him the Cobar Open in 1996. These days he appears to have cured the Yips (putting problems) and to be sure, he mostly plays bowls.
At No 7 is Chris Gilbert ‘ Gilbo’: Another natural sportsman but he looks like one! Gilbo has won three Cobar Opens 2014, 2017 and 2019. Unfortunately for Cobar golf and the town Gilbo and family moved to the Hunter Valley. If only he knew that COVID-19 restrictions allow one person to a cart and he wouldn’t have to put up with his noisy mate who would have to find another cart. Hopefully Gilbo will be able to make the trip in October to Cobar to defend his Open title.
In at No 8 is Michael McGuire ‘Mick’: Mick started playing competition golf in Cobar in 2011, having never playing Sandgreens before. Two months later Mick, playing off a scratch HCP, won the Club Championships shooting six under par for the last nine holes, the winning margin six shots. The runner-up was Garry Wilkin. The following year Mick won the Cobar Open. He played very little golf while he was in Cobar which was a shame as he was a very talented golfer and would have finished up near the top of this list had we got to see more of him on the golf course.
Number 9 on the list is Joe Shields: Joe was a very good ball striker. He won two Cobar Opens, 1990 and 2001. He played in the era 1980’s to 2000 where he came up against the likes of Jeff Smith, Max Phillips, Warrick Doulman, Jason Lawrence, Andrew Bartlett and Porky Dillion, arguably the most competitive era in Cobar golf. Joe always put himself into contention in Club Championships but just could not get the job done.
Rounding out the Top 10 is Rob Brook: Rob’s best golf was played before he got to Cobar where as an amateur he represented QLD for 10 years in the state team. He won the QLD singles championships six times. He turned professional after that but two serious car accidents curtailed his professional career.
Rob came to Cobar to work in the mines and he did not get to play much golf, but what he did was quality. He won the Cobar and Narromine Opens in 2006. Course management was the key to Rob’s game always setting up the next shot. Unfortunately his stay in Cobar was far too short and younger players like Matt and Jake could have learnt from his experience at the top level of the game.
One golfer who missed out on my top 10 was Jeff ‘Agro’ Smith. Before 1990 he won a Cobar Open and five Club Championships and after 1990 just one Club Championship. Jeff received a couple of red cards in his time and long before COVID-19 was ever heard of Jeff put himself into self-imposed isolation from the golf course.