by Tom Daunt
GOLF: Ask any veteran sportsperson what they are afraid of most in their careers and inevitably they say the same thing.
They rue the day when their younger counterparts take away the glory they have held for so long.
Up-and-coming Gympie golf stars Rebecca O'Neill and Caitlyn Wheatley have upstaged their veteran rivals and golfing mentors Dell Groundwater and Carol Ward to claim the A-grade and B-grade club championships respectively.
Both youngsters are aspiring professionals.
O'Neill, 14, is already making waves on the representative scene, captaining the Gympie district Sarah Jane Kenyon Match Play side while Wheatley, 11, is one of the younger players in the Gympie squad.
"It has been a great experience playing with Dell and Carol,” O'Neill said.
"They teach us a lot about the game, and how to relax on the course,” she said.
Groundwater, who has been a stalwart of the Gympie golf scene for decades, said it was a changing of the guard and hoped Wheatley and O'Neill's win would inspire other young female athletes to give golf a go.
"There is still considerably less women and girls that play golf compared to men and boys,” Groundwater said.
"It is one of the few sports that provides an equal playing field.
"As with many other male-dominated sports, the face of golf is changing.
"You are never too old or young to start,” she said.
Despite being upstaged for the B-grade title, Ward said Wheatley was an inspiration.
"You really do learn a lot from them,” Ward said.
"We are supposed to be stronger but just to see what they can do really keeps you motivated.
"I think she (Wheatley) is well on her way to a bright future,” Ward said.