Ian Healy says that although he doesn’t play as much as he would like and that his game is nowhere near where he would like it to be, he and golf have never had a parting of the ways.
“I love golf, and really appreciate the unique challenge the game presents,” said Healy, a member of The Brisbane Golf Club’s impressive stable of Ambassadors.
“My problem at the moment is that I have a stack of commitments and can’t seem to find the time, or have the passion, to play anywhere near as much as I would like to play. But I know it’s an issue only I can fix, and I need to get off my backside, make time and get that hunger back.”
Healy is regarded as Australia’s best-ever wicket keeper and was named in the Australian Cricket Board’s Team of the 20th Century. When he retired in 1999, after 119 Tests, he held the world record for the most dismissals as a ‘keeper.
Now, as a Channel 9 commentator, Healy is as well-known as when he was a professional cricketer, but not – unfortunately, he concedes – as a golfer.
“It’s good of Brisbane to continue accommodating me as an Ambassador because they don’t get to see too much of me lately,” he confessed.
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an affinity with the club, or the game. In fact, I first became a member at Brisbane back in the early 80s when I was studying teaching at university.
“When I was playing at my best my handicap was 10 and during my cricket career we had plenty of opportunities to play on some of the very best courses around the world. But over the past five or so years I have to admit that I have not been very good at golf.”
While cricket commentating absorbs much of his time during the summer months, business commitments and charity work is his other major interest. He is part-owner of nine Hoppy’s Car Wash outlets in south-east Queensland and also a partner in the Greg Chappell Cricket Centres based in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Hobart and Adelaide.
Healy is mindful of the fact that he – and only him – will be the catalyst for his return to a more regular golfing regimen of at least one competition round a week. But his 21-year-old son Tom, also a gun wicket keeper, may play a role.
Tom is also a member of TBGC and was playing off a 10 handicap when he was 10 years of age. His current handicap is 14 and he has represented the club in Junior Pennants.
“Tom plays first grade for Brisbane club Norths, as I did, and has been identified a ‘keeper of promise in the Queensland Cricket system,” his proud dad revealed.
“He loves his golf too and gets out as much as he can during the winter months, so hopefully I can catch the bug from him and play some more when this current cricket season finishes. The father-son activity certainly appeals.”
But the first venture back into golf will be via lessons from TBGC Assistant Director of Golf, Reece McRae. Healy’s errant driver, he says, is a major issue.
“I can hit all kind of shots with it, but rarely the ones I want to at the time,” he concedes.
“When I am playing sensibly, I leave the driver in the bag and hit an iron from the tee, but that isn’t much fun. I’m sure a couple of lessons from Reece will straighten out that unruly driver.”
In his 119 Tests for Australia, Healy effected 366 dismissals from behind the stumps and among his four centuries was a top score of 161 not out. He also played 168 limited overs matches for his country.
He was plucked from virtual obscurity for his Test debut against Pakistan in 1988, after just six Sheffield Shield appearances for Queensland. And he says Tom needs that same kind of luck to further his career.
“He is certainly as good as I was as a ‘keeper, and has a better idea of the art than I did at his age,” he said.
“But with just the one position in a team, it is a case of being in the right place at the right time, and luck – which often means bad luck for the bloke who might be in front of him in the pecking order.”
The Brisbane Golf Club’s stable of Ambassadors are US Open Tennis Champion Pat Rafter, cricketers Healy, Darren Lehmann, Usman Khawaja, Ryan Harris and Chris Lynn as well as Brisbane Lions player, Daniel Rich. The most recent inductee was mighty mare, Winx. These Ambassadors embody the club in appearance, demeanour, value and ethics, and represent the brand in a positive way to many potential new members. – TONY DURKIN