Ian Phipps wins the 2017 Handiskins National Championship

Parkes golfer Ian Phipps has done what not too many golfers playing in their first Handiskins event have done before.

He has become the 2017 Handiskins National Champion.

It’s also the first time a Parkes golfer has won the event.

The 75-year-old was blown away at the conclusion of the Handiskins National Golf Championship, held at the tough RACV Royal Pines Golf Course on the Gold Coast between May 25-27.

“I can’t win my own local competition but I can win the national Handiskins,” Phipps laughed.

“It’s the first time I’ve played in the competition...It’s funny actually.”

Phipps gained entry into the national championships after qualifying in the Handiskins final in Parkes last August.

He finished second to Cameron Butler after he won some $300 in the 18 Hole Ultimate Game of Skins Golf.

Of the four Parkes golfers – Phipps, Butler, Wayne Butler and Robert Cheney – who qualified to go to the Gold Coast, Phipps was the only player head north.

Skins Golf is often described as the ultimate game as it is traditionally played by professional golfers for cash.

Handiskins have introduced the game in NSW to the amateur fraternity and each year it has grown in stature and with one big difference – that amateur golfers cannot play for cash but for vouchers, which can be utilised at their home club or in the professionals shop on equipment.

In qualifying for the national final, Phipps had to encounter two rounds of stableford golf against a host of players from across Australia.

From those two rounds of nail-biting golf, four players would qualify for the national final.

In the preliminary rounds, Phipps – playing off a nine handicap – started solidly as he returned a great 36 points in the first round.

This score saw him leading the field and gain $250.

In the second round Phipps added a further 32 points to his tally.

With a total of 68 points, he was placed just one shot behind the leaders Tony Fenwicke – a 32 handicap player – and the Pacific Dunes scratch marker Mark Rota.

While the fourth player to gain entry was Shelly Beach golfer Paul Whelan who plays off a 12 handicap.

With the field all set for the title, players were informed that the first six holes would be for $40 each, the following 6 holes would carry $60 each and the final 6 holes $80 apiece.

Phipps made a steady start as he claimed the $80 jackpot on the second hole.

This certainly eased the tension, but after nine holes Phipps was right on the pace, despite only winning the second hole.

He did manage an added bonus as he claimed the Nearest the Pin on the 146 metre fifth hole, which saw him earn an additional $60 plus a $300 bottle of red wine.

Other winners on the front nine holes were Whelan and Fenwicke with $100 each and Rota trailed the leaders with $40.

With play going onto the final nine holes, it was Phipps who dominated as he claimed the 13th hole, followed by the 14th, 16th and 17th holes to finished the day with $620 and the national title.

Runner-up Paul Whelan was $220 back.

At the presentation of awards Phipps congratulated his fellow players on a wonderful couple of days of golf.

He heaped praise on the organisers and the sponsors, as well as Paul Edwards, the person who convinced the Parkes Golf Club to participate in the initial year back in 2014.

It was also revealed the Parkes Golf Club would be the beneficiary of six bottles of the award-winning Peter Lehman red wine which can be used to raise funds.

“I’ve come back down to earth now that I’m back at this course,” Phipps said upon his return home.

“I wasn’t tired, I was still up here, I’ve been playing sport my whole life.”

Phipps said he will attempt to qualify in the 2017 series, which saw Parkes players contest the second round on May 10.

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