Ultimate pro steps down

GETTING long-time Devonport Golf Club professional Ron Garwood to talk about his own exploits on the golf course is like getting blood out of a stone.
HangZhou Night Net

He is a long way from being a self- promoter, even on the eve of his retiring after 28 years as the resident professional at Woodrising.

However, even he can raise a grin when he is reminded of the time he was the leader of the 1979 Australian Open at the Royal Melbourne composite course.

The then young Garwood was lucky enough to birdie the par four first and then managed an eagle on the par five second.

A glance at the leader board showed he was in front, but by the end of the four rounds young Garwood did not even figure.

Then there was the time when he was just 13 and was drawn to play with a fairly competent lady player in a mixed foursomes event at Seabrook (he was living at Burnie at the time).

The snooty lady scoffed at the idea and suggested that Ron, on a handicap of 13, was not a good enough partner.

But the next year Ron had reduced his handicap to just four and this lady quickly changed her attitude. She reckoned Ron would be an ideal partner.

And the youngster had great pleasure in informing her that perhaps she was not good enough to play with him.

Ron Garwood started his career, under the guidance of his father, when he was growing up in Westbury.

He turned professional at the tender age of 16, under the wing of the renowned Bill Husband at the Launceston Golf Club.

He later spent about five years in Melbourne where he followed the Australian tour with, in his words, limited success.

However, he did compete in a couple of PGA championships and four Australian Opens competing against golfers of the calibre of Hale Irwin, Greg Norman and David Good.

He was also a member of the Australian PGA Board for six years.

Back in Tasmania as professional at Woodrising, Ron has managed to win about 30 Tasmanian PG pro- ams, but does not set great store in those achievements.

However, he and then Kingston Beach pro, Rod Mills, captured the Tasmanian foursomes title seven times.

In fact, Ron has the record of having won every event on the Tasmanian calendar with the exception of the Tasmanian PGA.

Tony Fox, a single figure member of the Devonport Golf Club, who has caddied for Ron, is convinced that he could hold his own with any of the top-flight players if he could only putt.

He recalls one Tasmanian PGA, which Ron should have won with something in hand, but in which he finished only second to the late Doug Murray.

“From tee to green, he was superb,” recalls Tony.

“But he let himself down with his putting.”

And it is a weakness in his game that Ron Garwood freely admits.

Of the players he has seen at Devonport, he suggests that multiple club championship winner, Kevin Brain, was one of the best.

He also had great respect for the ability of Adam Holden, who was apprenticed to Ron and who is now a professional in Canada.

But he has despaired of some of the better golfers, who did not realise their full potential.

Outstanding among these, said Ron, was former Woodrising green keeper, Stewie Mathewson.

He could have been anything and held his own anywhere, but he was not sufficiently dedicated.

Ron Garwood has indicated to Devonport that he will retire at the end of June. But he is fearful for the future of golf club professionals in Tasmania.

“With the prices for golfing gear offered by the likes of Ray Drummond and on the Internet, I can see the time when Tasmanian professionals will do what they are doing in America and merely provide golfing lessons and selling clothing and logos. We just cannot compete,” he said.

Devonport Golf Club president Bev Holman said Garwood had certainly been the longest-serving Professional, following in the steps of Gerry Bailey and John Furze.

“Ron has served the club extremely well and has started and improved the golfing careers of many members,” she said.

“He has also been helpful to the board offering advice and ideas on golf, tournaments and club business.

“He has given an extraordinary amount of time coaching juniors over many years and assisted some such as Sarah Johnstone into the elite area. Sarah now represents the state and plays off a handicap of one.

“Ron has also given pennant players valuable lessons prior to many seasons which, I am sure, has contributed to the success the club has achieved during his tenure.”

She added that he had been a very generous sponsor for club tournaments and for the ladies, mens, veterans and junior competitions and had initiated the Corporate Cup event for our sponsors now a keenly contested annual fixture.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.


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