The Jack Newton group (JNG) is a small company which not only facilitates events, promotions and fundraising activities for Diabetes and Junior Golf, but also envelops Jack’s commercial ventures as well.
As a former professional golfer, journalist, television commentator, golf course designer and public speaker I have had a passion for propagating two great causes, Diabetes and junior Golf.
The main charter of Jack Newton Junior Golf (JNJG) has always been to encourage more kids to play golf no matter what their ability, after all they are the future of the game. Unfortunately the power brokers of the game and the golf clubs severely underestimate this portfolio of the game. Golf is a discipline in an era where there doesn’t appear too much discipline or respect. The rules, honesty and integrity required on the course are great lifestyle skills to learn playing a game that offers longevity, where size and strength aren’t necessarily a significant requirement. Hence, my passion. These days I would rather watch kids at junior events or coaching clinics, than a professional event.
Diabetes is a disease which has reached pandemic proportions world – wide. Statistics show 1.5million Australians have Diabetes and half that number again do not know they have it. My Father died of complications of diabetes and I developed the disease following my accident. I knew nothing about it initially however once I absorbed the statistics I felt compelled to do what I could to promote awareness and raise funds for what was ( and still is ) a fairly understated and under – funded problem by the general public, the governments and the business community. It is not hard to be passionate about something you believe in if you can hopefully make a difference.
Amazingly, from a smashed up professional golfer lying in hospital pondering the future – if and when I recovered – to within a few years of being cleared from hospital and rehab duties, I could clearly see some options going forward which included, the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic and the Diabetes Corporate Cup. Initially I was asked to do some commentating on the ABC during a per chance meeting at Concord during the PGA Championship, in between operations, where I’d gone to catch up with some of my contemporaries. I have been commentating ever since and must say enjoy it. At about the same time I was asked to write a feature story for the Sunday Sun Herald or cover the Majors while fulfilling television commitments, with some radio thrown in.
Golf course design and construction was always something I wanted to investigate given I had played most of the great courses in the world and had formulated my own opinions. In 1988 John Spencer and Graeme Grant two highly respected superintendents (from Huntingdale & Kingston Heath Golf Clubs) approached me to join them which became Newton, Grant & Spencer. Following a breakup of that company I started Jack Newton Golf Design and Golf course Architecture, where some clear pathways forward presented themselves.
The Celebrity Classic at Tewantin Noosa Golf Club, Queensland I played in as Australian Open winner in 1979. I didn’t want to go as I’d had a long year in America. Once there I could see some real potential in shaping the tournament into a fun end of the year event with a heavy emphasis on celebrities from all walks and eventually sponsors and business people. When I had the accident in 1983 the club asked could they change the name of the event to the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic (JNCC).
With the inauguration of J.N.J.G. in 1986 and my taking over the running of the event in 1985, junior golf became the major benefactor of the Celebrity. From humble beginnings, the event now in its 34th year, has raised in excess of $3.5 million. The support from many people has been incredible and while the money raised is significant, the camaraderie and friendships that have been forged through the event, which the regulars call ‘The Jack’.
The Corporate Jack is an entirely different event aimed at corporate teams of four played at some first class venues. The day includes golf, lunch and barbeque dinner with small auction and presentation of trophies. Currently played at Royal Queensland, New South Wales, Kooyonga GC (Adelaide) and finish with a two day final at Barnbougle Dunes GC (near Launceston) Tasmania.
Although its difficult digging the corporates out of their offices at present I have never had a corporate not say that a half day on the course wasn’t mind – clearing with some fun and laughter along the way. Funds raised in each go to Diabetes and Junior Golf in that State.
Public speaking was something I had to learn the hard way. While I had done many press conferences and television commitments when playing the various tours around the world, facing the throng of Sydney media whereby I had to speak for forty minutes off my “own bat” on getting out of hospital . The Canberra Press Club was another intimidating experience given I was out of my comfort zone. These days I can comfortably speak for 45 minutes about the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, humorous and embarrassing moments and the idiosyncrasies of some of the greatest players to stride the fairways.
It’s not hard to see where my passion for the future of the game comes from when I doubt in any other chosen vocation I would have had the fun, been places and met the people I have without one common denominator – GOLF .
Jack's Playing Record
1965/66 N.S.W. Schoolboy Champion
1967 N.S.W. Schoolboy Champion, N.S.W. Amateur Champion, Champion of Champions
1970 N.S.W. Junior P.G.A. Champion
PRO CAREER: 1970 – 1983 (Near fatal aeroplane accident in 1983 ended his playing career)
VICTORIES: Won in over 13 countries including Europe, USA, Africa, NZ & Australia.
PROFESSIONAL RECORD (Major Highlights):
1972 Dutch Open, Benson & Hedges (U.K.), City of Auckland Classic (N.Z.)
1973 Nigerian Open (Africa)
1974 British Matchplay
1975 BRITISH OPEN – equal 1st, lost 18 hole play-off by 1 stroke (71 – 72) to Tom Watson.
1976 N.S.W. Open – At Royal Sydney, 19 under par – won by 10 shots.
1978 Buick Open (U.S.A.)
1979 Australian Open, NSW Open
1980 2nd U.S. MASTERS – Runner-up to Seve Ballesteros