There’s a sad reality why Australian golf, thankfully, doesn’t have a Bernard Tomic situation

ONE question I’ve been asked a lot lately is, “why doesn’t Australian golf have a Bernard Tomic?”

What they mean by that is, how do young Australian golfers manage to avoid the player-behaviour controversies plaguing Tennis Australia of late? From the outside looking in, it’s a legitimate question. After all, both sports share parallels, in that they generate a lot of income and fame for their most successful young competitors. But the reality for young Aussie golfers cutting their teeth overseas is life is far from glamorous.

While golf matches tennis for wealth at the very top of the tree, the two sports couldn’t be more contrasting at the lower end.

As tennis sensations Tomic, 22, and Nick Kyrgios, 20, are chauffeured around the globe in luxury to play the many ATP Tour events, prodigiously talented golfers like Rhein Gibson and Oliver Goss are nervously managing shoestring budgets while they contemplate the weekly grind of shooting 20-under-par just to remain competitive.

Despite his rapid rise to fame, highlighted by his low-amateur performance at the 2014 Masters, Oliver Goss has steered clear of controversy, unlike Aussie tennis ace Bernard Tomic [below]
Despite his rapid rise to fame, highlighted by his low-amateur performance at the 2014 Masters, Oliver Goss has steered clear of controversy, unlike Aussie tennis ace Bernard Tomic [below]

When Tomic – yet to win a Grand Slam event – is spotted lapping in a Ferrari on the Gold Coast glitter strip, his golfing equivalents are carpooling a rental vehicle from the airport to make their next tee time.

And as Tomic is being arrested in Miami during a drunken party at his $10,000-a-night penthouse suite, Gibson, Goss & Co. are locked in their motel rooms, booking their own flights, accommodation and transport for the following week with credit cards stung yet again with excess-baggage fees.

Some players are even left with no choice but to turn to their wives and girlfriends to carry their bag because they can’t afford to employ qualified caddies.

Welcome to the sad reality for many of our brightest young stars, where unless they secure regular top-40 finishes, many of them actually lose money doing what they genuinely love.

Herein lies the answer to the question – Australian golf’s young stars don’t carry on like Tomic because they, quite literally, can’t afford to. Financial discipline and humility comes pretty quickly when you have to fend for yourself in a foreign country.

Bernard Tomic
Bernard Tomic

Brattish behaviour is so often a by-product of being spoilt – as many would argue is the case with Tomic and Kyrgios. The incentives and royalty treatment they receive simply doesn’t exist in golf’s rising ranks.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t begrudge Kyrgios. While he treads a fine line with his conduct on the court, I think his passion and entertainment value is something Aussie tennis desperately needs post-Lleyton Hewitt. But I can’t cop the attitude of Tomic, especially when you consider the millions of Tennis Australia dollars that have been poured into his development.

Can you imagine the reaction from our young tour pros when “Bernie” whinged about having to pay for his own court hire before this year’s Brisbane International? Boo hoo, Bernie.

In stark contrast, our best young golfers – those that are members of the Golf Australia Rookie Squad – can receive up to $100,000 in grants to assist them with their international playing commitments. But once they hit the secondary pro tours – they’re pretty much on their own and it’s a long, gruelling slog unless they turn out to be an Adam Scott or Jason Day. If they don’t, paying for their own range balls is the least of their worries.