FATHER-OF-SIX Stephen Bonner embodies the appeal of the Tasmanian men's senior amateur golf championships.
Riverside-born and schooled at St Patrick's, the 62-year-old has lived in Sydney since 1972 and been a member of the prestigious Lakes Golf Club since 1982, but wouldn't miss his annual return visit to his home state.
``There's a group that come down from The Lakes each year and we love it,'' Bonner said as he strolled the sun-drenched fairways at Mowbray yesterday.
``I like coming back because I have fond memories of people I played with a long time ago, I always liked Mowbray and it's good to come back and see my family.''
Bonner, who seized the chance to catch up with 1969 Tasmanian junior team member and ifThe Examiner's golf columnist Rod Eiszele, is among the mainlanders who make up about a third of the 65 players contesting this week's championships, but said he was having an up-and-down tournament.
``It's so well organised, on a nice course and Tasmanians have such a friendly nature.
``I've played a lot of senior events and this is one of the best.
``Having said that, I lost a ball in a tree on the first. It's the second time I've done that and it's a bit of an uphill battle now.''
Tournament co-ordinator Dennis Tulk said players brought handicaps from 1 to 27 into the tournament so the field was wide open, although a sub-par total is generally required for victory.
The absence of five-time winner Mike Leedham and his home-course advantage has opened the field up and Stefan Albinski, of New South Wales, was quick to justify his favouritism. He leads after carding a two-over-par round of 73 yesterday.
Royal Hobart's Carl Steedman is in second place on three-over-par 74 and a trio of competitors - local member Adrian Dennis, Royal Hobart's Barry Roberts and Victoria's John Wilson - are in equal third place on four-over-par.
The 54-hole tournament, which is included in the Australian senior order of merit, continues today and concludes tomorrow. This is the 14th year Mowbray has hosted the event.