THURGOONA begins its defence of the Murray District scratch pennant golf on Sunday with a new look squad and an investment in youth.
Last year’s champions have four of the seven players returning for this year’s pennant competition now named after Border golf legend Bernie Bell.
But they will also blood some emerging young talent in Luke Brosolo, 18, and Matthew Stenson, 15.
Joining them in the Thurgoona team is Andrew Shearer, who returns to Thurgoona after winning the North East pennants with Wangaratta’s Jubilee club during the winter.
Danny Mills, in his fourth consecutive year for Thurgoona, said it was important to get off to a good start in the first of six rounds.
“We travel to Howlong to play Howlong on Sunday,” he said.
“For the past three years we have been able to beat them on their home course but there really has been nothing in it.
“We have lost a few players but we have solid replacements and in some ways are looking to the future with these young guys.”
Howlong is also expected to be under strength with two of their team, Josh Hayes and Jayden Walker, in contention for the Wodonga championship that concludes on Sunday.
Howlong pennant organiser Henk van de Ven expects Thurgoona to be strong but is tipping Albury as the team to beat this summer.
“I’m not sure who’s in and who’s out but if Albury are able to play Zach Murray they are going to be hard to beat,” he said.
“He’s the best player around and they have plenty of other top-line players to back him up.”
Albury travels to Corowa for its first round on Sunday with the first games teeing off at 12.30pm.