STACIE McDONALD quit golf for eight years after falling out of love with the game.
Now aged 30, McDonald's passion - and game - is as strong as ever.
The three-time Merewether club champion has set her sights on the Australian Mid Amateur (30 and over) Championships at Bridie Island November after a runaway win in the state title at Yarrawonga last week.
McDonald carded rounds of 82,79,75 to win by eight shots from Ashleigh Arnold (Bonnie Doon) and Adele Douglas (Bonville). Merewether's Tania Hutchins (84,84,86) was sixth.
She accredited the win to the input of close friend and coach Andy Piggott, who withdrew from the men's event after two rounds to caddie for McDonald.
"I couldn't have done it without him," McDonald said. "He has been coaching me for the past three years. We are the best of friends, but he also knows how to get through to me. He watches my swing and gives me tips."
McDonald was an outstanding junior and had college scholarship offers in the US when she walked away from golf aged 19.
"I lost my love for the game," she said. "I was driving back from a tournament and thought what am I doing with my life. I needed to walk away because I actually started hating the game. I was getting quite upset and frustrated with myself when I played badly and I'd hold on to it. Thankfully, I found my love for the game again. Now, even if I play crap, I still enjoy being out there and in the sunshine.
"Andy has been a huge help in that department in terms of keeping my head screwed on and brushing off the bad shot or making sure I'm there for the right reasons."
Since picking the sticks back up in 2018, McDonald has won three straight club championships at Merewether, where she is on the board, and will be chasing a hat-trick of Newcastle Hunter District titles at Nelson Bay next month.
"Hopefully I can make it three in a row and after that is the Newcastle District mixed foursomes with Andy," McDonald said. "The Australian Mid Amateur Championships at Bribie Island in November is the big one."
** Mick Wade will lead a strong Newcastle side against the Central Coast at The Springs Golf Club, Peats Ridge this weekend.
Fresh from a win over Lower Mid North Coast, Newcastle will take on the Central Coast in four ball matchplay and individual matchplay.
Seniors: Mick Wade (c), Jye Pickin, Chris Turnbull, Tom De Wit, David Alexander, Justin Ely; Colts: Luke Ferrier, Josh Robards, Harry Cleare, Jordyn Ward; Juniors: Hamish Ellison, Max Duffy-Smith, Patrick Duffy, Harry Leggatt, Jaxon Brooks, Lachlan Lawson.
** Ella Scaysbrook carded rounds of 73,77 to finish second overall and second in the 14-15 years girls division at the Macarthur Junior Masters on Monday.
Macquarie College schoolmate Harry Atkinson (76,69) runner-up in the 14-15 years boys division.
Atkinson, Scaysbrook, Brij Ingrey and Amy Squires were last week named in the Jack Newton Junior Development Squad which is part of the Golf Australia National High Performance Pathway.
The quartet will attend three camps as well as work with the Golf NSW High Performance coaches.
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