Premiership winning NRL coach Michael Hagan has had an affinity with golf since before his playing days with the Newcastle Knights and while his rugby league career transitioned from playing to coaching the game, he’s always had one eye on the links.

Hagan and three mates recently won the Nelson Bay Holden Scramble event, a victory that was somewhat of a surprise to the self categorised ‘hacker’ who picked up the clubs prior to a career in rugby league.

“I started playing golf, badly, at about 15, very much socially though we played at school and a bit in my 20’s when I was playing footy, not every week but every now and again. Very much in the hacking category,” Hagan said.

“I became a member after I finished coaching at Parramatta around 2009 and since then it’s become a bit obsessive but I still don’t think I’m a lot better than what I was back then, but I love it.”

Hagan’s been a strong competitor throughout his career in rugby league which has lead to many accolades.

A two-time grand final winner with the Canterbury Bulldogs as well as a State of Origin and Australian representative in his playing days, Hagan won another premiership as coach of the Newcastle Knights in 2001, has coached Queensland and now holds an assistant role under Mal Meninga with the Australian team.

“If you’re competitive you still like to win something occasionally. As an example I’ve played in the Jack Newton Classic in eight of the last nine years I reckon and I was runner-up in one of those nine and that was like gold to me.

“As long as you don’t get too frustrated or cranky that you can’t play consistently at a good level but I’ve come to not expect a lot, so when we have a victory like we did at the Holden Scramble, that’s just the icing on the cake.”

The Holden Scramble provides the unique opportunity to team up with a few like minded mates to have a bit of fun on the course in a team capacity and it was certainly no different for Hagan and his crew.

“There was Jason Pepper on our team who I play with every couple of weeks, another good mate of mine Simon Law who’s a former professional surfer that was the first game we’ve ever played together actually so we both share that in common we both love golf but played other sports,” Hagan said.

“And Peter Gibson who I haven’t played with before so we had a bit of a mixed bag but we had a good day and all chipped in, pardon the pun!”

Dealing with elite athletes for his entire career, Hagan said golf gives the opportunity to provide an outlet to professional sportspeople and to anyone who’s looking to take a break from a stressful position.

“It gives you some time to be in your own space for five hours where you just need to concentrate on golf and I reckon you can put all the footy and other stuff to one side so I think it’s quite a good outlet for professional sportspeople and anyone with a high pressure job really.”

With the Rugby League World Cup Final set to be held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on the same weekend as the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines, just a short drive up the M1 and headlined by World Number 5 Sergio Garcia, Hagan said he’d be keen to get up close and personal with some of the world’s best.

“I can schedule my rugby league commitments around golf sometimes, Mal Meninga knows my love of golf and I do get accused when we have our camps at Sanctuary Cove with Queensland that maybe I should’ve devoted more of my time with my video reviews than the golf course.”

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