My first golfing hero
My Grandfather, Ian Strachan (we call him Gon Gon), was my first golfing hero. He introduced me to the game and bought me my first set of golf clubs. His passion for golf was born in his homeland of Scotland and I’m glad he passed it onto me.
He was there, counting every shot, when I had 156 hits on my first golfing adventure. He was also there when I made my first par and then a birdie! He taught me to respect the rules and said, “Yoo’ve gotta coont every shot”. He made me read the rules from cover to cover – it wasn’t the most exciting thing for a 14 year old, but the experience did come in handy years later when I knew some obscure rule that was overlooked by an official.
Gon Gon drove me to my first Pennant Golf match. Pennant is a serious affair in Victoria and on the morning of the match I was quite nervous. Gon Gon assured me everything was going to be alright – unfortunately he had severely underestimated the travel time to the course and we were running hopelessly late. Gon Gon’s driving (of a car that is) was never that good. He used to say, “I’ve ne’er hud an accident” but we would joke that there was always a trail of destruction behind him.
I wasn’t sure if it was Granddad’s driving or the pressure of the golf match, but I was 3 down early and playing poorly. Nothing was going my way and the team needed me if we were going to win the match. It was then Gon Gon started telling me a story (he was very good at telling stories),
“Ah used tae ken thes joker fa was a member here….”
His story went on and on. I can’t remember the ending or even if there was one, but I think he had another plan. His tale took my mind off the golf and allowed me to play much better. I won six holes in a row to close out the match. It was great to have a first up victory and the drive home was much better than the one there.
In 2010 he accompanied me to the Club Championship presentation night. He had a great time, telling the members about my early golfing (mis)adventures. The night coincided with the State election, and the members, being very conservative, were thrilled with the Liberal Party’s election win. Gon Gon was a life member of the Labor Party and was never scared to speak his mind in relation to politics – at a quiet juncture he referred to the enemy as, “a bunch of ignorant bastards”. Very funny.
He taught me to hit the ball hard and worry about it later. His coaching was simple, uncluttered and to the point. He didn’t mess about and when a guy we were playing with started bamboozling me with stupid advice, Gon Gon whispered (loudly enough so all could hear), “Ignair th’ dunderheid, he wooldnae ken th’ first thing abit golfin”.
Gon Gon passed away last week aged 87. I’m going to miss him but his advice has served me well. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor, coach and golfing hero. I’ll always remember him and his favourite bit of golfing advice,
“Keep yer heed doon Son an’ hit th’ baa hard”