The year was 1976 and a 21-year-old Greg Norman worked as a trainee professional under Charlie Earp at Royal Queensland Golf Club.
Greg was training hard and in April was permitted to play as a professional in Qld PGA events.
Greg’s best friend was another trainee professional Bryan Smith who had just moved to Dalby to take up his first position as the Club Professional at the Dalby Course.
Greg was keen to visit Dalby and play his first professional event at the Dalby Pro-Am.
Another celebrity cricketer and golfer, Greg Chappell was also invited to play in the field comprising the best golfers in the local area. Norman played in a group with Dalby’s Club Champion Lindsay Farrington and Des Theiss from Cecil Plains, who marked his card.
Joanne Cesari, a 15 year old student from Cecil Plains Joanne was Norman’s caddy for the event. Joanne came into Dalby with her classmate Julie Stower who wanted to caddy for Greg Chappell … so Jo was assigned to this new “up and coming” golfer from Brisbane, Greg Norman.
Norman did not get off to a good start on Hole 1 (282M Par 4) and landed his tee shot out of bounds over the back of the 1st green. This country golf course proved far too small for the big hitter who later developed into the best ball striker of the modern era.
His tee shot on Hole 2 (387M Par 4) was much better and cleared the corner landing close to the green. However on Hole 4 (280M), his tee shot was once again out of bounds over the back of the green. So Greg’s chances of winning the Dalby Pro-Am were dashed there and then.
This was much to the dismay of Dalby member Dr Ian Keys who had money on Greg to win. “Keysey” was disappointed and thought that Greg Norman was a complete dead loss and a total waste of money.
As we know, Greg loves his fishing and hunting. While in Dalby, the late David Baker Snr, a local golfer hosted both Greg and Bryan on his property near Ranger’s Bridge for some wild pig expeditions.
After playing in Dalby, Greg went on to win a 4 day tournament in Adelaide in October of that year. It was known as the West Lakes Classic held at The Grange course. This was his first major event and he blitzed a star-studded field by 5 strokes.
Surprisingly he missed a one-foot putt on the last hole which proves there is rarely such a thing as the “unmissable” putt! Perhaps his head was in the clouds and “a million miles away” as he dreamed of his first big pay cheque.
This was the start of a meteoric rise for Greg Norman. His career culminated in the 1990s when he maintained World No.1 status for over 6 years (330 weeks to be exact).
It just shows that we all just need to start somewhere, and how we do that is not always an indicator of how we finish!
Photo: Source www.shark.com.