Vale Peter Toogood, a true legend

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Peter Toogood in the sixties. Image: Libraries Tasmania

The Australian wave has lost a true legend and Peter Toogood dies at night, at the age of 89.

Toogood, a member of Australia's winning team at the original Eisenhower Trophy in St. Andrews in 1958, is survived by his wife Berenice, sons Christopher, Anthony and Bernard and five grandchildren. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his family.

Amid a wave of tribute to his wave, Toogood was also remembered as one of the & # 39; real gentlemen & # 39; of life and the great educators of Tasmania. He received an MBE in 1984 for his education and golf services, was a first member of the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame in 1987 and later received an OAM as his brother John.

Toogood was recently recognized by Golf Australia for the accomplishments of his life when he attended the Australian Interstate Series at his beloved Royal Hobart Golf Club from his nearby home.

It is clear that he combined his two major passions outside of his family as recently as last week when he gave some instruction to a younger member of his home course.

Stephen Pitt, director of Golf Australia, felt it was a pity that it was not just a sport, but also the Australian community in general.

"Peter has been a regular topic of conversation for his golf deeds over the years and no unpleasant word has been said about him as an athlete or, more importantly, as a person," said Pitt.

"He was one of the true lords of life, kind to a mistake; and it happened that he was very good at golf.

"It's hard to imagine that someone matches some of his sporting achievements, but today we will miss him as a valuable lifelong contribution to golf and the Tasmanian and Australian communities as a whole – and we steer the Berenice and the Toogood family the greatest sympathy. "

Toogood was destined to be a golfer. His grandfather, Alfred, was born on the Isle of Wight and was a good enough professional golfer who finished fourth in The Open in 1894 at just 22 years old.

His father, Alfred Jnr, emigrated to South Australia and became a professional at The Grange in Adelaide, where Peter was born. There are images of a young Peter, about 18 months old, swinging clubs around The Grange.

Alfred Jnr won the Tasmanian Open twice – in 1938 and 1950 – after moving to Hobart in 1936 to become a professional at Kingston Beach Golf Club. And it was there that Peter first struggled with golf fame.

Peter spent much of his time in the greengrocer's cabin along the seventh hole, where the multifunctional functions of club professionals of the era meant that Alfred Jnr was a regular when preparing to mow the fairways.

Peter, with his familiar hickory sticks, had previously hit the flag on that par-three green, and now, on January 30, 1938, he was determined to go even better, only seven years old.

He later recalled the shot that had him in the Guinness Book of Records for nearly 20 years as the youngest player ever: "It was the last day of school holidays, I went out and played myself, so I was tense because I had a hit the pin a few times and I thought I'd try.

"Fortunately the secretary-manager and another guy walked by when I took a picture, otherwise it would never have been verified. I hit a hickory-shafted 3-iron, 130 yards and it went inside."

And they never stopped going inside.

Toogood's CV is almost impossible to compare. He set to work as an eagle at the penultimate hole of the Tasmania Open in 1949 to force a playoff with Victorian Ron Smith, which he eventually made better for the first of eight state championships, a record that he still shares with the large Len Nettlefold.

But that was the tip of the Toogood iceberg, because he would remain an amateur and unbelievably win 10 of those state titles. Remarkably, after the first came in 1948, the last came from Toogood in 1978.

All the while, Toogood was also about what he believed to be his true calling to become a teacher. After finishing high school, he moved to Victoria to attend the University of Melbourne, where he graduated after studying physical education and psychology before returning to Tasmania.

Because many of his golfers started professional careers, Toogood forged another remarkable path that culminated in the fact that he became senior master of the highly regarded Rosny College on the east coast of Hobart

Previously, he had been in charge of both physical education and social psychology at school, and essentially the leader of the PE curriculum of all Tasmanian secondary schools.

The legendary Peter Thomson became friends with Toogood for the first time as both amateur careers began and often the five-time Open champion called on him to become a pro, arguing that his game would stand the global test.

But Toogood could never leave the teaching profession, playing golf instead if his schedule allowed for family and other obligations.

Not that it stopped his shocking list of golf performances.

He led an amateur in the Open Championship of 1954 and finished 15th overall at Royal Birkdale, the same year he beat his brother John in the final of the Australian Amateur, with the legendary headline: "Toogood too good for Toogood".

He was the Tasmanian Sportsman of the year 1955 and defeated future champion Bob Charles 3 & 1 in the 1956 final of the New Zealand Amateur.

All this meant that he was an automatic selection for Australia, if available, and that culminated in his most memorable – and possibly most beautiful – golf performance.

Toogood was chosen to play in the Eisenhower Trophy of 1958, the first edition of the world team championship that is still being fought today, along with Doug Bachli, Bob Stephens and future superstar Bruce Devlin.

Devlin said it took "52 hours for this group of children" to fly to St. Andrews, but worse was to come for the Australian team that got a later shot on the first day because the afternoon wind blew in relentless winds on the Scottish coast.

Toogood once remembered: "There was enormous wind and rain and of the 116 players, only seven broke 80 and they would all leave in the morning at 7.30 am.

"The wind blew the ball off the greens, we would hit them and they would roll away, so we were 17 strokes behind after the first round.

"But we gradually took over, played and won in a play-off (a full day against the Americans). That was pretty special."

Devlin said his mate had been crucial to that victory, in total medal-playing format, playing the only score under par of the tournament, played in devils again everywhere – a 71 in the third round that even the legendary Bobby Jones and then the American team caused the captain to surprise you with the swing and temperament of Toogood.

"I have nothing but good memories of that event, hard to believe it was 61 years ago," said Devlin.

"Peter was a great player … a very direct batter and, with respect, I would put him on the intense side, because he was very meticulous about every shot he tried to play. There was certainly no & # 39; cavalier & About him … but boy, could he play.

"But I think more than that, he was also just a really nice person … known and respected by everyone in Aussie golf and around the world, by the way."

That reverence was never clearer for Toogood's eldest son, Chris, who was astonished to remember his father's fame – largely unknown for his modesty – when Jack Nicklaus won the Australian Open in 1971 at Royal Hobart.

"I was a bit of a guy, but I remember seeing Jack approaching my dad and the two of them were talking like they were long lost friends … what I think they were," Chris said.

"He wouldn't like it if I talked about it, but I remember thinking," That's Jack Nicklaus – and he knows my dad, asks him all sorts of questions … that's great. "

But the thing that made Toogood a real Tasmanian legend was that he willingly and happily rejected that fame and played with great passion for his home state, as part of Tassie & # 39; s only three teams that won the Interstate Series – in 1968, 1974 and 1977.

He also developed a passion for golf course construction and was later passionately involved with the Australasian Golf Museum in Bothwell in central Tasmania.

That was all due to the glory days of his on-course domination. Of the 36 club championships that Toogood won, 19 came to Royal Hobart after nine in earlier days to Kingston Beach and two more to Huntingdale while studying in Melbourne.

Remarkably, he won 15 straight titles from 1966 at the Seven Mile Beach club, which he called home for 56 years with Royal Hobart general manager John Mendel, who today reflects on a huge loss for the club.

"The best thing I could say to describe Peter is that we have 1000 club members and that no one ever said a bad word about him – that's remarkable," Mendel said.

"He put Tassie golf on the map, but you would not have found a nicer gentleman anywhere, just take generations of juniors under his wing to help them and learn something along the way.

"There will never be another Peter – it's a big loss."

Details of plans to honor Toogood's life in the coming days will be shared when they are completed.

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