What’s wrong with Australian golf and tennis?

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Adam Scott has won his second tournament on the trot. (AFP / Peter Muhly)

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    There have been 423 majors in the history of golf – Australians have won just 15 thanks to just nine golfers. Take out Peter Thomson’s five British Opens, and the stats look sicker.

    But there have been many Australians well capable of winning the big ones over the years, none more so than Greg Norman.

    To only have two majors to his credit does no justice to his standing in world golf during his era where he was the world number one for 331 weeks, second only to Tiger Woods’ 623, with daylight third – Nick Faldo’s 97.

    The Australian honour board:

    – Jim Ferrier won the USPGA in 1947.

    – Peter Thomson’s five British Open were 1954, 55, 56, 58, and 65.

    – Kel Nagle won the centenary British Open in 1960.

    – Greg Norman’s British Opens were 1986, and 1993.

    – Wayne Grady won the USPGA in 1990.

    – Ian Baker-Finch the Briish Open in 1991.

    – Steve Elkington the USPGA in 1995.

    – Geoff Ogilvy the US Open in 2006 when both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie imploded on the 72nd hole with double bogies.

    That translates to Australians winning just six grand slams in the last 52 years, but no US Masters ever.

    Australian tennis players have performed far better overall by winning 91 Slam singles from 445 tournaments.

    But the current Slam drought is just as evident with only five wins in the last 46 years – Pat Cash won Wimbledon in 1987, Pat Rafter the US Open in 1997 and 1998, with Lleyton Hewitt the US Open in 2001, and Wimbledon in 2002.

    No Australian has won the French since Rod Laver in 1969.

    The 1950s and 1960s were the golden era of Australian tennis when green and gold dominated the world.

    Australians won 20 of the 40 Slams in the 50s with Frank Sedgman, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, and Ashley Cooper each winning four, Mervyn Rose won two, and Neale Fraser and Ken McGregor one.

    Even more so in the 60s with 32 of the 40 – Roy Emerson won 12, Laver 11, Fraser, John Newcombe, and Fred Stolle two apiece, while Rosewall, Tony Roche, and Bill Bowrey won one each.

    Then the rot set in with only eight Slams in the 70s – Newcombe won four, Rosewall three, and Mark Edmondson one.

    And the rot has continued across Australian golf, and tennis, ever since.

    But there’s far more chance of an Australian golfing major than a Slam singles in the foreseeable future.

    On either count, the results have been very disappointing and administrators of both sports have a lot to answer for.

    Editor’s note: Sydney golfer David Graham also won two majors, the first being his 1979 playoff win at the US PGA Championship before winning the US open in 1981 by three strokes, while tennis player Mal Anderson won the US Open in 1957.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • December 11th 2012 @ 7:40am
      Johnno said | December 11th 2012 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      David a good and timely article.

      My opinions

      -Globalization: The 2 sports have spread globally, like at a lot of Olympic sports, more global, golf and tennis the same
      -Poor administration
      -Golf and tennis have become expensive sports in cities with more urbanisation happening. Both take up a lot of land , and ar not efficient uses of land
      -A few local councils are knocking down gold courses, for multi purposes sports ovals, and for high rise apartment complexes
      -Coaching is expensive ,and court hire, and course hire. And equipment is both expensive in golf and tennis. Top of the range clubs, tennis rackets,
      golf balls, tennis ball, shoes, golf bags, clothing the list goes on.
      -Expensive sport now , so hard for lower middle class or even standard middle class people to afford to send there kids too and get good at it.
      -Bascially a sport for the upper middle class now, not neccesasirly rich like Horse polo, but certainly upper middle class, if the kid boy or girl want to get good at the sport if they show any talent.
      -And other bigger countries eg like China , and USA pumping in a lot more money into the sport, and Russia with there women’s tennis programs and endless production line , and China too , girls like the charasmatic and beautiful Li Na who won the 2011 French Open.

      -And less courts and golf courses benign built in big cities becoz of the operating costs,.
      -And more competition for sports , and market share in OZ now. No longer just the core traditional sports in OZ
      (AFL, 2 rugby codes, cricket,swimming,golf,tennis, netball,field hockey)
      -But sports like Basketball ,soccer have entered the landscape for choice , both taking large numbers in both men’s and women

      So all sorts of problems for both sports, some complex issues too. And also very incompetent administrations making all sorts of problems for the sports to grow, with average development programs etc.

    • December 11th 2012 @ 8:02am
      Punter said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      David, please read Johnno’s posts for answers, it’s pretty plain & simple, especially Globalization. We are a small country population wise & dominated by 2 sports with little or no Int’l flavour (not having a go at those sports, just quoting the truth).
      Just have a look at the grand slam winners of both women’s & men’s tennis in last 2 years & most of those countries were not winning grand slams in Rod Lavers’ era.

      • December 11th 2012 @ 8:23am
        Johnno said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        Punter yes countries like Czech republic too the last 30 year shave a fantastic tennis record, and of course the 2 swiss players Federer, and Hingis. Hingis is actually Czech heritage , just she was born in Switzerland, so Czech republic if you count Hingis too in the list is probably per head of population the most talented women’s tennis country ever. Germany and Sweden, danced a lot int he 1980’s, both have faded a bit post 1990’s. And Punter in Rod Laver’s day basically USA,Australia,France, dominated the sport basically had a mortgage on tennis.

        • Roar Guru

          December 11th 2012 @ 8:35am
          peeeko said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          she was born in what is now Slovakia and moved to switzerland when she was 7

          • December 11th 2012 @ 8:45am
            Johnno said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

            I just checked her background. Yes she was born in Slovakia, but she is Slovak of Czech descent.

    • December 11th 2012 @ 8:06am
      James said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      David, can I suggest a minor adjustment to your commentary which notes that you are only talking about mens sports

      • December 11th 2012 @ 8:19am
        Johnno said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Sammy Stouser she won a US open in 2011, and Rennae Stubbs is a fine double player. Also Dokic, and Molik have flirted with a grand slam, but never quite got too, the summit.
        Karie Webb is fantastic golfer one of the women’s golf great’s. But overall our results have been poor in both sports in both men’s and women’s , it’s obvious. Were a middle size nation, but Australia should still be doing better in both sports overall.

      • Columnist

        December 11th 2012 @ 10:03am
        David Lord said | December 11th 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        James, I thought that was self-evident which doesn’t require an explanation.

        • December 11th 2012 @ 10:12am
          Johnno said | December 11th 2012 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          David are you ever going to go back on sky news sportsline. You , Megan Barnard, and Jimmy Smith , always had good chats, was good stuff mate.

    • December 11th 2012 @ 8:11am
      Long Reef Dave said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      You forgot David Graham.

      He won the 1981 US Open at Merion and the 1979 US PGA at Oakland Hills

      • Columnist

        December 11th 2012 @ 10:10am
        David Lord said | December 11th 2012 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Long Reef Dave, as you can see in the intro I mentioned 15 majors from nine Australians, the subsequent copy ahows 13 majors from eight. Somehow David Graham’s 1979 PGA and 1981 US Open went missing. So you are right, and so was my original copy.

    • December 11th 2012 @ 8:12am
      Bondy. said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Valid point Dave, What has to be taken into consideration that for sports back in the 50’s- to almost the late 70’s they were pretty much only played by the english french americans new zealand and us or commonwealth nations and since most modern games now are global and they pretty much eveolved from the one region britain if we just simply look at rugby tennis golf football which one of those doesn’t have a major global appeal to it now, I look at somebody like Gail Monfis Sengalese born and raised in France playing the global game of tennis for France only Noah has gone before him culturaly.

      Amazing Johnno has said this is a timely article I was thinking about this yesterday and unfortunately Lordy i’m predicting it will get a little bit worse but not much though.

      Great to see Pete Senior win a lovely bloke.

    • December 11th 2012 @ 8:29am
      Darren said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      We are a country of 22 million against a country of 260million excluding all of Europe and Asia. In addition, funding of non-spectator sports or largely self reliant sports (ie. football) is heavily weighted in favour of 1 – swimming. I am not advocting that golf is under funded but dont think for a minute it is the realm of rich or well off families, especially now. I have seen a lot of kids come through with an old set of borrowed clubs and know a hell of a lot of excellent golfers who gave up on the circuit after living ion the back of a car for many years.

      Remember also, in golf you as a single player have to beat a field of over 100 players and 1 bad shot can cost you the entire tournament, In tennis you have to beat 7-8 players only of a large field and 1 bad shot often can have little impact on a game.

      And then we have the Tiger effect. Not as a player but as an influence on the game. Is the lng putter really an issue.Hardly. Tiger needs to be able to drive and control a ball to keep up with the younger players coming through and more and more players are using extended putters. If he was serious about the integrity of the game he would argue against ball and club technoology. I turned 50 this week and with the new driver and a new ball I hit 4 drives over 300 yards. That is wrong but with the balls and clubs available now you can hit longer and stop the ball quicker. With a 54 degree wedge you can still get back spin with a ball an old man can hit over 300 yards. That is what should be of concern to Tiger and the PGA.

      Soap box is retired.

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