Above: Greg Norman was always a media target throughout his lengthy playing career.

MANY moons ago, when I was hosting the Channel Ten golf show, “The Pro Shop”, I interviewed the late Tom Ramsey at his Gold Coast hinterland home. Fighting stage-four cancer in many parts of his body, the legendary golf journalist knew he was on borrowed time. Such challenges, however, failed to quell the fire in the belly of the famously combative scribe, who took few prisoners in the half hour of footage we filmed.

One of the subjects we crossed was the nature and state of golf journalism, and how it related to and influenced the growth of the game. At the zenith of his influence, Ramsey wrote for 40 Murdoch newspapers around the world, covered every Major championship for nearly three decades, and was on a first-name basis with the greats of the game. His ongoing print battles with Greg Norman during the Shark’s golden era were the stuff of legend, and were often the reason for golf holding pride of place on the back, and sometimes front, pages of News Limited’s Australian publications.

But even in 2009 when the interview was filmed, golf was struggling for relevancy in the world of newspapers. Big papers like the LA Times had just cut long-term golf scribes from their payroll. The amount of column inches dedicated to golf coverage was shrinking, and being pushed further from the back page. Fast-forward to 2017, and that process has only gathered speed. Specialist golf journalists retained by newspapers to write exclusively about the game are an endangered species.

In what remains of Australian newspapers, the task of writing about golf has largely become something to be tacked on to the jobs of writers covering other sports. The challenge this poses for disseminating information about, and growing the game in this country are manifest. People already engaged with golf can find information through other sources, but our ability to show golf’s relevance to a wider community is challenged with the portal of newspapers now shuttered.

Clearly the landscape is significantly different now than what it was in the 1980s and early ’90s, but by any measure, Australian golf at the elite level is in a purple patch unlike anything we have seen for many years. The question is, what effect is this having and how many people are aware of it?

How many Australian sports fans would be able to tell you, upon questioning, that Australia had the No.1 male golfer in the world for a large proportion of 2016? And, that for the first time in history, Australians hold the trophies of both the US Amateur and US Junior Championships after the victories of Curtis Luck and Min Woo Lee, respectively? We are also the world champions of amateur team golf after Australia’s dominant victory in the Eisenhower Cup in 2016, Adam Scott is entrenched in the world’s top 10 and Minjee Lee is bounding her way up the women’s world rankings. Feel-good wins around the world from the likes of Sam Brazel in the 2016 Hong Kong Open and Scott Hend’s Asian Tour domination add a complexing, left-of-centre spice to the mix.

The Australian golf scene is diverse and rich with possibility. Sadly, this is inversely proportional to the amount of coverage the game is receiving from the medium that was once its greatest friend.

Back in 2009, Ramsey didn’t offer any solutions. There was a sense of resignation about the inevitability of the demise of the newspaper in its current form, and the effect this would have upon the coverage of a peripheral sport like golf. Eight years down the track, we now know for certain that the Ramsey glory days are not returning.

The story of Australian golf has rarely been as enticing, or multi-layered, as it is at present. We just have to find new ways and means to tell it.