Dan Marsh. He’s a domestic cricketing god in Tasmania. A middle-order slayer of cut shots. A left-arm, dot-collecting off-spinner. Son of Rod. A multiple cup-winning captain. A coach.
And now he’s got himself a golf handicap of plus-4.
Dan Marsh knows Victoria’s secrets. Superman wears Dan Marsh underwear. Now have some of this: Dan Marsh has never had a golf lesson. What?! Plus-4 and no lesson? He’s a naturally gifted enough golfer to reach a handicap of plus-4 without external help. No coach. No tips. Self-taught!
Dan Marsh can kill two stones with one bird! It defies logic.
“As kids, my brother [Paul Marsh – the former boss of the Australian Cricketers Association and now chief executive of the Australian Football Players Association] and our mates would ride our bikes down to Nedlands Golf Club in the early mornings and wait around the practice facilities until the men’s competition had finished for the day so we could access the course,” Dan says when asked why he is so unfairly talented at golf.
“If it wasn’t a game of formalised cricket, or backyard cricket, or AFL in the winter, we were down at Nedlands chipping, putting and waiting for our turn to play. What helped us most back then was that everything we did on the practice facility had a competitive edge to it. Paul’s my brother, and he was better than me, so of course I wanted to beat him.”
Brother Paul, at that time, was as good as any player at Nedlands. Many believe that if it wasn’t for him accepting a job with the Port Adelaide Football Club in his early 20s, all that wagging of class and dodging uni lectures for the golf course could have led him to a shot at a pro circuit somewhere. Sadly, Paul is now the owner of one of those ‘putting chippers’ for people who have the chipping shanks.
Factor in that uncle Graham Marsh is a one-time winner of a PGA Tour event, a 20-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, a 10-time winner on the European Tour, holds a top-ten finish at the Masters and a top-five in The Open, brother Paul was a gun, father Rod kept wicket for Australia and still holds a handicap of 9 at Kooyonga – at age 72 – and it leaves you with little wonder as to why Dan was able to reach plus-4 without ever having a lesson. Golf and hitting stuff is in the Marsh family DNA.
“That plus-4 handicap was a great feeling,” Dan says. “At that time, I was doing what I wanted with all facets of my game around my home track, although I do look back on a couple of club championships with a sense of dread having squandered some leads.
“During that hot stretch of golf, I found myself in an unfortunate position where I was fresh out of an employment contract and golf seemed like the perfect way to maintain a fresh mind and a sense of purpose. I’d practise on Tuesday afternoons with one club but would hit a thousand balls with it, feeling different shapes and trajectories. I lived on the pitching green and would wander the course playing multiple balls, just hitting different recovery and pitch shots. I was playing Wednesday and Saturday comps along with some club representative pennant. It was a lot of fun putting some time into my game and I definitely reaped the reward of improvement.”
Now, having spent more than a decade on the Australian domestic cricket circuit for Tasmania together, Dan and I have played an abundance of golf with and against each other. In that time, I’ve gotten over him only once – at Coolum, where admittedly he was more hungover than me. And I made him pay.
So when AGD editor Brad Clifton stumped up the idea that our own resident athlete golfer play the No.1-ranked athlete golfer from our November 2019 issue in a match, and that our own resident athlete golfer should write about said match and also provide insight into Dan’s journey as a golfer and the match result be shared globally, I initially asked if the magazine’s PGA Tour scribe Evin Priest had played any other sport professionally and might be available?!
Dan’s golf is custom-made for matchplay. His short game is so sharp that it matters little if he finds himself in the stink off the tee, or misses a green on approach. He has the ability to chip close and drain clutch putts with a short and jabby putting stroke that just works.
His swing isn’t the classic athlete swing that we are seeing more and more on tour and making its way through the amateur ranks. Dan is no bomber. He’s Rod’s boy, five-foot-six with small levers. But what he lacks in maximising leverage from a freak athletic gene pool, he more than makes up for in muscle, power and consistency of stroke connection through an elite level of hand-eye co-ordination.
Sadly for Dan, when it mattered most and the result of our match was set to make its way into Australia’s most-read golf magazine, he soiled himself and three-putted more times than he had all decade.
That’s right, your new No.1-ranked heavyweight athlete golfer in Australia, by way of the sloppiest 2&1 victory ever recorded, is…