JAMES Nitties plans to use the series of pro-ams in the Mid North Coast and Newcastle as a stepping stone for a strong summer.
Nitties is among a host of Hunter professionals playing in the two-day Port Macquarie pro-am starting Tuesday.
He will then travel south, stopping at Forster (Thursday) and Hawks Nest (Friday, Saturday) before starting the Newcastle swing at Belmont on Monday. The 36-year-old Novocastrian was the joint-winner at Port Macquarie two years ago.
"The aim is to use the next couple of weeks as a stepping stone into the summer to get a bit of form," Nitties said. "They are all really good, tough golf courses and the fields are awesome."
The Hawks Nest Beachide Pro-am has moved to a two-day format and has $22,500 in prize money.
As well as Nitties, fellow former US PGA Tour members Craig Parry, Peter Lonard and Andre Stolz are in the field. Defending champion Cal O'Reilly is back along with Leigh McKechnie and Aaron Townsend. There is also a $1500 par-three nearest the pin shootout on Saturday evening.
"It's good to be fairly local, save a bit of money and hopefully make a little bit of money," Nitties said.
Nitties, who spends the Australian winter in the US, missed the cut at the Northern Territory PGA and Indonesia Open.
"I have been in America for four months and coming back to Australia it is a different game," he said. "In America it is all carry and soft greens. Australia has windy, tight, firm golf courses, where you have to fight the ball a bit more, and fast greens.
"I was a bit tournament rusty in Darwin and Indonesian, and hopefully over the next couple of weeks I can get the Aussie form back and have good push to the end of the year."
Nitties pocketed $188,880 after finishing second to Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnra in the final of the $1.75 million World Super 6 Perth at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in February 2018, but has since struggled for consistency.
His best result last summer was 11th in the Queensland PGA.
The right-hander will return to the US in early November for the second stage of the second-tier Korn Ferry qualifying school and be back in time for the NSW Open and Australian Open.
"Ideally, I'd like to get back on the Korn Ferry tour," he said. "I feel like I am still playing well enough. I just have to get my head sorted and believe it. I played seven qualifiers over there [during the winter] and missed four of them by a shot. I was shooting five and six under and not getting into tournaments. It's a different world over there. I was lucky enough to win on the Adams Tour, a mini tour, which helped cover expenses. The game feels good. It's just the brain."