POPULAR Merewether club professional Peter Johnston is simply glad to be playing golf again.
The 54-year-old will tee up in the $12,000 Greater Bank Merewether Pro-Am on Tuesday, which begins a big week of golf in Newcastle.
Defending champion Darren Beck will be joined by Asian Tour member Jake Higginbottom, former US PGA Tour players Nathan Green, Andre Stolz and Nick Flanagan and in form pair Leigh McKechnie and Cal O’Reilly.
Johnston doesn’t expect to be challenging for the title.
Playing is sufficient.
Johnston suffered bleeding on the brain after a fall from the roof at his Cameron Park home late last year. He was fixing Christmas lights when he fell almost 10 metres to the ground.
“I have no idea what happened,” Johnston said. “I remember being on the roof and that’s all. Apparently, I was conscious all the time and was trying to get up off the driveway.
“I fractured my skull, had a bleed on the brain, broke all the ribs on my right side and smashed my collarbone. “
He had surgery to insert pins and a plate to the collarbone, but didn’t require an operation on the brain.
“I was lucky,” Johnston said. “My head is good now but it was pretty ordinary for a long time – dizzy spells and headaches.”
Johnston required three months off work and only picked back up a club two months ago.
“At the moment, I am just happy to be out there playing,” he said. “How I go isn’t relevant.”
Merewether hosted a charity dinner on Monday night, with proceeds going to the Mark Hughes Foundation.
“The dinner is a great lead into the tournament,” Johnston said. “The course is in great condition. We got the rain at just the right time.”
* The pro-am circuit moves to Muree Wednesday for another 18-hole $12,000 event. Nelson Bay will hold a $23,000 36-hole event on Thursday and Friday. The Newcastle swing culminates at Belmont with a two-day $25,000 event starting Monday.
Amateur spots are available at Belmont. Cost is $60 which includes a sit-down meal.
* Cal O’Reilly and Leigh McKechnie both shot four-under par 68 to share victory at the $11,000 Hawks Nest Pro-Am last Friday.
* Harry Atkinson will lead the NSW PSSA team at the School Sport Australia Golf Championships in Victoria in November.
The Macquarie College year-six student earned the honour after dominating the NSW PSSA Championships at Camden Lakeside last week. Atkinson carded rounds of 74, 69 to finish at three under and win by 15 shots. He was also a part of the Combined Independent Schools side which won the stroke, nett and four-man ambrose.
* Charlestown gun Blake Windred is a finalist in the NSW Outstanding Male amateur of the year. The 20-year-old is up against Harrison Crowe and Nathan Barbieri for the award which will be announced at the Golf Industry Awards on October 22.
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