Pass the screwdriver, golf conditions so harsh in drought
GOLF: It's so dry, golfers have to use a screwdriver to make a hole for their tees. The land is so unforgiving, sump oil and sand is mixed together to create a "green''.
For head Brookwater Golf and Country Club professional John Collins and his PGA trainee Chris Crooks it was an enriching experience helping those affected by drought.
After sharing their golfing knowledge on a 3500km, nine-day Western Queensland trip, they would do it all again.
"Absolutely,'' Collins said, hoping to return after putting a smile on the faces of outback people doing it tough.
"It would be nice to make it an annual thing. They are great people out there.''
After loaning a ute courtesy of Bartons Holden at Capalaba, they packed up their golf gear and ventured to some of the harshest countryside in Queensland.
Collins and Crooks ran free clinics and offered golf lessons at St George, Blackall, Winton, Longreach, Barcaldine, Tambo, Charleville and Roma.
As well as helping some keen golfers, Collins said it was a platform to help the people "take their mind off what many can only imagine as a stressful period''.
Having grown up around beef cattle at Warwick, Collins took the initiative after seeing the recent Drought Relief Appeal on Channel Nine.
"My mum and dad used to have a farm as well so that was part of the reason why I wanted to give back,'' Collins said.
"I was finally in a position that I can actually give some-thing back to people that they can take some benefit from.''
Being the Brookwater professional for five years, Collins organised a tour schedule with Crooks covering outback country clubs. Winton was the furtherest destination from Ipswich.
Collins and Crooks quickly discovered the harsh conditions people are enduring.
"For both of us, it was the first time we'd been out to any of those courses before so it was a bit of an eye-opener,'' Collins said.
"One unique thing was the ground was so hard that each person needs to carry a screwdriver to drive a hole in the ground to put their tee in.
"The greens out there are all sand. It's too hard with irrigation and maintenance with no water and all that sort of stuff.
"So the courses have sand greens and it has got a mixture of sump oil with it, to hold it together, and you rake it and smooth it out.
Collins hoped the benefit of the trip was acknowledging their battle with nature as much as the sporting assistance.
"The most satisfying was seeing the amount of people that turned up at each venue to play and the smile you could see on their face from us being there,'' Collins said.
"All the adults appreciated someone from the city going out there.
"For them, it was more about that someone showed that they actually cared enough to go out there and visit and obviously helping them with their golf as well.
"The kids appreciated the professional tuition of which they would probably have been very limited or never received any tuition for the golf.''
And with a sharp eye for talent, Collins was impressed with the golfers he met.
"At pretty much every town and golf club we did, there was a lot of juniors,'' Collins said.
"There's plenty of kids out there that are very keen to continue playing or take up the game so that was pleasing for us.''
Learning from his generous gesture and with the help of his Brookwater colleague Crooks, Collins hoped they could make a similar tour happen again in the future.
Back in the city, Collins is continuing his regular coaching at Brookwater having made a valuable sporting contribution to the massive drought relief effort.