It may not be his first tournament in the play-for-pay ranks, but for Blake Windred next week's AVJennings NSW Open will feel like his professional career is really beginning.
Windred will be making his 'home-ground' debut as a professional at Twin Creeks Golf & Country Club – and with a large group of friends and family trekking down from his hometown of Newcastle for the event, he can't wait for the championship to begin.
"I would love to have my first win as a pro as my home state Open," Windred said. "My friends will be there. Mum and dad will be there too."
Twin Creeks is a course Windred clearly enjoys. The 21-year-old has claimed low-amateur honours at the last two previous NSW Open Championships, never finishing outside of the top five.
Despite his fledgling status in the pro ranks, Windred is a definite pick by many pundits to be near the top of the leaderboard come the final round on Sunday.
"It is a course I really do like. It suits my eye, and I think every hole out there is literally a birdie hole.
"If I can place my tee shots in the right places and give myself plenty of looks, I know I will score well, that's the key," he added.
Just six weeks into his professional career, Windred said he is enjoying every minute of the new experience.
"I would love to have my first win as a pro as my home state Open." – Blake Windred
A tied 8th finish at the Western Australia PGA in his first professional event on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia was backed up with a 7th placing at the Victorian PGA Championship in late October.
A gruelling two-week test at the European Tour Q School in Spain followed – and when he claimed low-qualifier honours at one of the four stage-two venues, Windred looked like he could be bound for the European Tour in 2020.
Sadly, it came to nothing for 21-year-old after missing the four-round cut, but he is much wiser for the experience.
"The two tournaments before (Tour School) were the best preparation I could have had.
"I enjoyed the experience, but it's pretty daunting. You get a card and a job for next year, or you don't.
"I think I built it up in my head to be much tougher than it actually was.
"I realise now you don't have to play out of your skin to get to the European Tour. You have to play your golf like you know you can."
Despite the setback, Windred is unfazed and hopes to secure some invites on the secondary Challenge Tour in 2020.
"I want to be on the European Tour, that's my goal. It is realising too though there are different pathways to getting there these days, but good golf will get you there in the end."
- David Tease, Golf NSW