The Lake Macquarie Women's Amateur Championship at the Belmont Golf Club south of Newcastle in NSW and the Master of the Amateurs played at Royal Melbourne get things underway this week.
The Men's and Women's Australian Amateur titles will be decided next week at the Commonwealth and Woodlands Golf Clubs in Melbourne while the Lake Macquarie Men's Amateur Championship will be played from January 24th.
With several of our leading amateurs having turned professional in recent months and another, Oliver Goss, embarking on a collegiate career in the US, the door is now open for several emerging players to step up to the plate.
The Lake Macquarie Women's Amateur Championship begins on Tuesday 8th January and will be played over 72 holes. The would be defending champion, Whitney Hillier is now a member of the Ladies European Tour and will not be in the field.
Su Hyun Oh is expected to start as the woman to beat although she will face strong challenges from the likes of Grace Lennon from Victoria, Hayley Bettencourt from WA, Ellen Davies Graham and Ali Orchard from Queensland and New Zealand Amateur Champion Munchin Keh.
Oh is the current Australian Junior Champion and in 2012 made it to the Quarter Finals of the US Women's Amateur Championship, finished runner-up at the Callaway World Junior Championship and is currently the 5th ranked amateur in women's golf worldwide.
The Master of the Amateurs has developed into one of the most significant amateur events in Australia. That is now played at the famed Royal Melbourne is a reflection on its growing standing in Australian golf.
In 2012 the winner was local golfer, Nathan Holman, who defeated the then in-form Daniel Nisbet by five shots. Other previous winners of the event have included Brendan Jones and Jason Day.
Holman is back this year to defend his title but he is up against it in terms of the quality field he faces. The world's number 4 ranked amateur Peter Williamson is in the field this year as is another talented American Patrick Rodgers who in October of 2012 won the US Collegiate Championship.
The brilliant Chinese 14 year old Guan Tianlang will tee it up, the Asia Pacific Amateur Champion now gearing his game towards a debut appearance as the youngest player ever to compete at the Masters in April. Guan's narrow but impressive win in Thailand in November signalled him as a future star of Asian and World golf and a second round of 70 at the Australian Open further highlighted his talent.
Other Australians expected to do well at the Master of the Amateurs include the Keperra Bowl Champion and runner-up to Oliver Goss at the West Australian Open Brady Watt, Todd Sinnott, Brett Drewitt and Jordan Zunic while New Zealand Amateur Champion and that country's best amateur, Vaughn McCall, gets a chance to show his class over the great Royal Melbourne layout.