The Golf Victoria Board has formed the view that it is in the interest of golf that the barriers between professional and amateur golf continue to be reduced. Pennant is an interclub competition between members of participating clubs.
Golf Victoria CEO Simon Brookhouse acknowledges the decision is one that was not taken lightly by the Board but believes the amendment to eligibility will be a positive step forward in ensuring the best players are competing.
"The best players should be competing in the best club team competition. This is an amendment to pre-existing rule (3.2) to permit each club to play a maximum of two players in each of its teams who are either interstate amateurs, overseas amateurs or professional golfers. It should be noted that all players must be financial members of the club they represent to be eligible.
"Including professionals on a limited basis would enable better amateurs to measure themselves against that standard and further improve the standard of the Pennant competition.
"Many youngsters who turn professional but are not successful are lost to the game. Permitting them to compete in pennant provides a pathway for their return," Brookhouse said.
Pennant competition for Men commenced in 1899 whilst the Women's competition began in 1907. In previous eras, most of the best players in the state were amateurs and played Pennant. Since the late 1970's, many of the best players have turned professional at young ages and have been lost to the Pennant competition.
Golf Victoria President John Hobday reiterated that the decision has been made in the best interests of the sport.
"The Golf Victoria Board was determined to take a lead role and adopt a position which it believes is in the best interests of the competition and Victorian golf more broadly. It's important that as the governing body for the sport in the state, we are continually striving to improve our competitions and services so that the sport will prosper into the future.
"The Board acknowledges that a change to the conditions such as this may be seen by some clubs as major however, it's important to remember that many changes have been made to conditions over a period of time and overall these have all been positive for the competition," said Hobday.
The 2015 Pennant season will commence on Sunday 15 March. Current Pennant Division 1 Champions are Commonwealth for Men, Metropolitan for Women and Commonwealth for Colts.
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.