Australia’s dame of daytime TV does more than merely dabble in golf.
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How did you get into golf?
I started playing golf 20 years ago when my sister married a keen golfer. It was in the family, as my dad was a scratch golfer and both brothers played, although we didn’t play [growing up]. I loved it as soon as I started. Work is very inconvenient to a successful golf game, so my participation was very intermittent.
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What is it about the game that you love?
There are so many elements to the love of golf. Essentially you are playing yourself, each and every shot, but in competition it feels very different and gives a more pressured challenge. Golf has a wonderful social element with the ability to play and meet so many different people from all walks of life. Also it’s a game that can take you around the country and the world to so many glorious places. I also very often just love to walk and play alone when I can find a window of time. Each shot is different and each day is different.
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What is your best golf memory?
I had the honour of interviewing Jack Nicklaus at The Australian Golf Club when he came to Sydney to open the new course he redesigned 35 years after his first creation of The Australian. It was a huge honour to speak to a remarkable man. I have interviewed Greg Norman on several occasions and he has always been generous with his time. Greg asked me to MC a weekend for the opening of his course, Pelican Waters in Queensland. Many of the best athletes in the world attended, including Sir Vivian Richards. Greg played a few holes with everyone and it was a master class in golf.
I was very excited to get a hole-in-one at my club, The Australian, on the 11th. I have had the pleasure of playing golf in Kapalua in Hawaii, Ireland, Wentworth in England, Las Vegas and attending the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
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Do you take golf lessons?
Yes I have had lessons but not consistently; and when I do get a lesson I wonder why I hadn’t done it sooner. Go figure – a professional can improve your golf. Who would have thought getting good advice is better than wandering around aimlessly reinforcing bad habits! One thing I have learned is that it doesn’t matter how bad you play, it is possible to play worse!
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What do you see as one of the biggest challenges currently facing golf?
I was a board member of Golf Australia for six years as an independent and was re-voted on each year with six years being the maximum term. Women in golf was a big issue, as numbers had been declining. GA helped set up structures to encourage women, especially young women, into the game at individual club level. These programs have been very successful.
COVID, in an extraordinary way, has been positive for golf but probably not in Victoria. Other states allowed golf with limitations as great exercise in fresh air. So many have reacquainted themselves with the love of golf. But the game as a whole at club level needs to accommodate younger people and young women who do not have time for 18 holes. Also dress rules and attitudes can be seen as overbearing to some young people. Clubs need to be more flexible. It is a game of honour, respect and tradition but needs to be more encouraging. Yes, times have changed and traditional golf should be respected but we need the future and younger people involved.
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You have worked in television, radio, acting, singing and theatre for more than 50 years and are in the Logies Hall of Fame. Can you pinpoint a favourite time in your career?
I was very honoured to earn the Hall of Fame Gold Logie – the third woman to receive it. I have always enjoyed my career, which has had many different types of shows. “Midday with Kerri-Anne” was a huge highlight for me as the first woman host of that show. I particularly like live TV with a news and lifestyle angle.
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Your career has brought you much fame and success. Does this translate into confidence on the course?
Creating live television, which I did on “Good Morning Australia”, “Midday”, and “Mornings with Kerri-Anne”, was great fun under pressure. No second chances. In a way, yes, it does prepare you to be controlled and to hold your nerve but nothing compares to the different pressure of golf. Confidence on the course must come from practice and working at your individual level. I often think I am glad I don’t seem to run my life and career like I play golf at times. I always try to remember I am out there for fun.
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What made you so ambitious and industrious over the course of your career?
I have always enjoyed, in fact, loved television and how creative you can make it. When you do love it, it is easy to work hard and to drive yourself. What people see go to air as live TV, I liken to an iceberg. What you see on top of the water is nothing to what it looks like underneath; meaning the biggest workload is your preparation, which is 90 percent of what you do. Sounds like golf.
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What is something you would like to see change in club golf today?
I would like to see some of our golf clubs be more open to young people and how they think within the etiquette of life and golf. Manners should always be a priority. Also golf clubs could think of time constraints of mothers in their area and encourage them to get involved but have special arrangements, which could work for them and in turn eventually translate to club membership.
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What is your best tip for women golfers to inspire them to be the best they can be on or off the golf course?
Whatever your ambition in life, work and play, figure out how to do it better. Never be afraid to fail. Failure is not a dirty word but just another way to gain experience.
IMAGES: Getty images: Brook Mitchell, Jason McCawley