Feature group with a twist - Goddard's homecoming
For AFL legend Brendon Goddard, trading the footy for the dimpled sphere to play top level golf at the ISPS HANDA Tour of Australasia Gippsland Super 6 this week is a full circle affair.
The former St Kilda and Essendon great has always been a “golfing tragic” – according to his wife – a moniker which was born at the Toongabbie golf course in his youth.
Growing up in Glengarry, Goddard spent plenty of time at the ‘gabbie golf course as his father’s parents ran the general store in the nearby town.
“Dad was kind of the self-proclaimed superintendent there used to water greens and tees out of his old HQ Holden Ute,” Goddard said.
“I used to go down there with my brother at the time and me being knee high to a grasshopper I’d swing and hit golf balls around while Dad was watering tees and greens and go swimming in the dam to fetch the balls that the Saturday golfers used to hit in there.
“That’s where my love of golf kinda came about but I actually didn’t have much time to play golf as a junior because I played footy cricket and basketball predominantly… but there was always a love there.”
Golf was doomed to dormant passion status for a growing Goddard, as other sports demanded the bulk of the young athlete’s time.
However, when he had spare time it was usually occupied with club in hand at Heyfield, Morwell or Traralgon golf courses.
Now with his glittering football career behind him the future is all about golf.
“I’ve got the flexibility to do it and participate. I’ve always wanted to play competitive golf… more at an amateur level but getting the opportunity to play with these guys in a pro event… is a pretty unique situation.
“I’m scratching an itch, now I’m not playing footy that competitive itch so I’m pretty blessed to have the time and being able to participate in a pro event.
“I’m definitely out of my comfort zone. I’d much prefer a kick from 40 metres to win a grand final than standing over a putt to win (a golf tournament).”
A star studded trio
Goddard forms one prong of an Australian golfing triumvirate headlining the field this week at Yallourn Golf Club.
His round one and two playing partners are two familiar faces in former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and Olympic golf record holder Marcus Fraser.
The trio are regular playing partners and mid-week rivals at their home club Kingswood Peninsula, but their history traces back further still.
Ogilvy, a mad Saints fan, and Fraser, a mad Bombers fan, have both been long-time fans of Goddard’s career and the feeling is mutual.
Goddard has played with Ogilvy on and off in Australia and Arizona – the latter’s home base while on the US Tour, and has caddied for long time friend Fraser at the US Open at Pebble Beach.
“Now he’s not playing footy anymore I think he’s a full-time golfer. He loves it and this is a great opportunity for him to show people how good he is and to test his game with a real scorecard in his pocket,” Ogilvy said.
“It’s going to be fun playing with those two for the first two days, it’s going to be like a Wednesday at Peninsula.”
Ogilvy too has fond memories of golf in the region.
Moving back to Australia this year has been a chance to re-connect with those roots.
“This was kind of a nice gentle tournament to come back. I’ve always liked playing in the country, I’ve missed these sorts of tournaments over the last 20 years,” Ogilvy said.
“Gippsland golf I’ve always really enjoyed. I think the conditions are great for golf and the vegetation, grass seems grow nicely it rains enough.
“We used to play a lot growing up… we used to play a great 72 hole (amateur tournament) in Yarram, I used to love Yarram golf course, Traralgon we used to play a fair bit, Lang Lang had quite a bit and Leongatha. We played quite a lot down here growing up, a lot of the talent in my era came from down here.”
Fraser has also enjoyed success across Gippsland and is a past pro-am winner at this week’s venue – Yallourn.
“It’s a great golf course and obviously an incredible piece of land. You catch yourself looking at all the views around… it’s nice to come back to a place I’ve played well,” Fraser said.
“Having a US Open champion playing up here in Gippsland is incredible for the area and obviously BG with his career he’s had in footy and being from the area it adds a lot to the tournament.”
The trio headline a field of 136 pros and amateurs competing for the inaugural Gippsland Super 6 title this week.
Spectator entry is free, with a free family fun day in store for Sunday’s final round.
The event is proudly supported by Latrobe Valley Authority’s $85 million sports and community initiative.