It’s been some time since someone stopped to genuinely talk to me other than for a few moments at a hazy hour after the presentation ceremony, so thanks for taking the time to chat.
It’s a pretty lonely existence, really. I spend most of the year sitting quietly on a shelf somewhere, gathering dust. People look at me a lot, sure, and occasionally they’ll hold me up or cradle me in their arms, which is a nice bit of affection. But I am 88 years old now, so staying put probably suits me better.
As most people know, too, I don’t travel much these days. Today’s winners keep one of my little siblings rather than me, as nearly all my public outings take place in Sydney. I loved my lone trip to Tasmania all those years ago and had a tremendous week on the Gold Coast 17 or so years back (there is zero truth to the rumour I was kicked out of Melbas late one night). Where I really miss visiting is Perth and Adelaide. Why I never seem to go back there I’ll never know – it’s tough to get a straight answer on that one. They tell me there’ll be a bit more travel in the next few years, but I’ll believe it when I see it. You get a bit cynical at my age.
It’s been quite the life. I’ve survived World War II, a different brand of conflict in the form of player coups and unplayable greens on more than one occasion. In those instances I heard some choice words spoken by the people who look after me, let me tell you.
Some of my most interesting moments are spent with the engraver. Every year it’s the same scenario: I tell him that any spelling errors are his fault, not a case of me wriggling or getting ticklish in any way. It’s never happened, of course, but I like to think that’s mostly thanks to my stern words when the letter punches come out.
On the whole, the players look after me well. There have been a few minor dings and dents over the years and quite naturally I’ve been filled with all manner of liquids. The players are especially keen to show me off the day they take hold of me. I’ve never travelled so much as the (seven!) years Gary and Vivienne Player took me in. I almost qualified for citizenship in South Africa. Peter Lonard took me to a Chinese restaurant one year during that stretch last decade when he seemed to have constant ownership of me. Wayne Riley showed me parts of Melbourne I never knew existed. On the other hand are players like Peter Senior. There’s never a drop of alcohol in my system whenever he accepts me.
Do I wish John Daly had won me? My friend the Wanamaker – well, I say friend but he doesn’t get down here very often – tells me that first night with Long John in Indiana in ’91 taught him more about life than any other. And he was 75 at the time and had practically lived with the gregarious Walter Hagen during the ’20s.
Jack Nicklaus was the consummate gentleman, as was Peter Thomson. I’ll miss not seeing him at the Open any more.
My current owner Cameron Davis has been particularly gentle. He reminds me of Stephen Allan – must be something about the baby-faced winners. The members at Cam’s home track, Monash Country Club, have enjoyed seeing me whenever I’m there, although I did get an icy glare from behind the glass from their mixed foursomes trophy one day, but I’ve come across that sort of jealous reaction before. Gold trophies have such an inferiority complex.
There are a few players I wish had taken me home. You would have filled me with tears of joy had Jarrod Lyle ever gotten hold of me and how Ian Baker-Finch never did, I’ll never know. Others were a mystery, like John Morse. Even I had to look up who he was. Then there are the ones who take their sweet time. Finally meeting the Parry family was a long wait after a few near misses, while going home to Greg Chalmers after 13 years was like greeting a long lost son.
I spend a lot of the Australian Open either on the first tee or inside a corporate marquee. It’s my favourite week of the year. So come and say hello to me at The Lakes this month. And maybe bring along a spot of Silvo and a rag, OK?