Australian Golf Digest’s April edition has always been about the Masters, and so it should.
The greatest week in golf has captured the imagination of Aussie golf fans since its inception. From Greg Norman’s near-misses to Adam Scott’s triumph in 2013, Augusta National holds pride of place Down Under and always will. It’s box office for television and bucket list for travellers.
What also holds pride of place across the nation this time of year is our war history. In recent years you’ve probably noticed a particular Anzac theme to our April issue. Why? Because the synergy between golf and war continues to bond on the back of our ongoing military commitments around the globe.
It’s an agenda we’ve pushed heavily and gained significant momentum a couple of years ago when we profiled the life and death of lieutenant Clyde Pearce, the first native-born winner of the Australian Open. The Gallipoli war hero was our very first golf superstar – a young man that equalled the Australian Golf Club course record en route to winning the national title in 1908. Sadly, he would pay the ultimate price when he enlisted for national service. Pearce was tragically shot in the Battle of Messines in June, 1917, where he led his troops on the frontline. In truth, his golf legacy was never celebrated the way it should have been.
Last year we featured a story on former commando Damien Thomlinson [above]. In April 2009, Thomlinson lost both his legs while somehow surviving an exploding Taliban landmine. It was golf that provided solace in such a turbulent time, laying a platform for Thomlinson to rehabilitate both physically and mentally.
“I noticed golf was improving my physical condition and flexibility. Just being out on a course doing something you really love and then being able to see yourself improve at it was so satisfying,” he told AGD.
This year the tradition continues with a profile on a war hero who has returned home to forge a career in professional golf. Damien Jordan served on two tour tours of Iraq but not without some major consequences. He has endured a decade-long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder that cost him his marriage. But, like so many other returned servicemen from all generations, Jordan turned to golf as a means of dealing with the side affects. What he has managed to do over the past 12 months is nothing short of inspirational. Read his full story here.
Such tales of heroism pose a legitimate question at this time of year: could Australian golf be doing more for our returned and fallen servicemen?
Case in point: each year the US PGA Tour makes it a priority to honour the United States military at the Quicken Loans National tournament at Congressional Country Club. There’s a heroes tribute wall, military caddies, starters and announcers, and money raised from the event goes to defence charities. Members of the military also get free entry to the tournament, while there are a range of other on-course activities and exhibitions to generate much-needed exposure and funding for servicemen and their families.
To their credit, many Aussie golf clubs hold Anzac Day festivities at their course. But from a major tournament standpoint, where serious exposure and cash can be generated, is there an opportunity to tie something in with our summer of golf calendar that ramps up in November near Remembrance Day?
Jordan, who recently won the Victorian PGA Championship, said he wouldn’t hesitate to throw his support behind the concept: “It would be fantastic if the PGA Tour of Australasia did something like that,” he says. “I certainly would put my hand up to help get something like that up and running.”
Lest We Forget.