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Address on the occasion of Australian Golf Club Foundation Annual Dinner, Sydney.



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Speech

ADDRESS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC

GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

ON THE OCCASION OF

AUSTRALIAN GOLF CLUB FOUNDATION ANNUAL DINNER

THE AUSTRALIAN GOLF CLUB, SYDNEY

16 MARCH 2007

• Club President The Honourable Peter McInerney and Mrs Jeanette McInerney

• Club Captain Arthur Carr and Mrs Barbara Carr

• Foundation Chairman Peter Charlton and Ruth Crooke

• Distinguished guests

• Ladies and gentleman

Marlena and I are delighted to be with you this evening to celebrate the successful endeavours of the

Australian Golf Club Foundation.

I have enjoyed first hand experience of the value of the Foundation’s work this afternoon, with club Captain

Arthur Carr, and learnt a thing or two from outstanding young golfers, Matthew Giles and Matthew Gleeson.

One of the aims of the Foundation is to assist junior golfers, and Foundation supporters must feel amply

rewarded when they look at the achievements of these two young men. Between them they have already

won a host of local and international trophies, including a world championship.

Through the sponsorship of the Australian Golf Club Foundation, both Matthews have benefited from training

at the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation. Jack of course, turned personal tragedy into a personal

commitment by ensuring young Australians had access to the training facilities necessary to play world class

golf.

This commitment to pass on our knowledge and our skills - in all forms of endeavour, and at all levels - is a

particular passion of mine. And I continue to stress the need to mentor, that is, to provide our young

Australians with as much encouragement, support and opportunity as possible, particularly in their

adolescent years, when many are struggling to find their own place in the world and to feel a sense of

belonging.

Yet passing on our skills through mentoring is not a new concept. Indeed it is an ancient tradition that has

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paid handsome dividends. Historical records show that skills, culture, and values in preparation for adulthood

have been learned in mentoring relationships since the birth of ancient civilisations, including life-cycle

mentoring by indigenous Australians.

Craft guilds founded in the Middle Ages were practical examples of mentoring. Young adults were apprenticed

to master craftsmen working in specific professions such as merchandising, law, or gold smithing. Some of

the world’s greatest artists emerged from the mentoring schools of the Renaissance.

As societies become more complex and impersonal, the necessity for mentoring has become even more

important. Young Australians in their formative years deserve the very best we have to offer, as we seek to

nurture talents and healthy interests. Investment in educational, social and sporting opportunities is the key

to helping young people realise their potential and to experience a feeling of self-worth.

The absence of self-esteem and constructive interests contribute to the mental health and substance use

disorders rated now as the most serious health issues affecting young people aged 12 to 25.

Thus there can be no finer goal than to help young people avoid these problems through programs that

elevate their skills, eliminate low self-esteem, reduce social isolation and open doors to choice,

independence, to the maturing of interpersonal skills, and to a healthier life.

This is the power of mentoring - to unlock potential at all levels.

And for this potential to be unleashed, mentoring must be supported by solid structures and effective

practices - precisely what you are doing through your Foundation.

It is not just personal bias that allows me to say that golf is a wonderfully healthy and fulfilling past time. The

sport is one of our most popular. So popular that the industry is recognised as one of, if not the leading sport

industry contributor to the Australian economy, according to a PGA report.

In 2004 the golf economy was valued at $2.72 billion, employed about 23,000 people directly and was

enjoyed as a game on some 1,750 golf courses and driving ranges across Australia.

That adds up to a lot of golfers. And importantly, golfers are wonderful role models. At a time when some

sporting professions are not setting a good example, leading golfers are almost universally good sports and

models of civility.

Few young players might reach the standards of the two Matthews, but as the game’s promoters so aptly

say, this is a game which can be beneficial to the mind, the body and social life of every participant. It

provides physical exercise, mental challenge and an avenue to socialise, to connect with friends, to have fun

and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

For all that the Australian Golf Club Foundation is doing to nurture our young and talented golf players,

heartiest congratulations.

Because, not only will players like the two Matthews bring honour to the game, and their country, but they

will be role models for many hundreds of other young Australians, who will be similarly nurtured by other

Clubs, following the lead so outstandingly set by the Australian Golf Club.

That can only be good for us all.

It is particularly inspiring that the Club - which no lesser a member than the late Chief Justice Sir Leslie

Herron argued was Australia’s oldest Golf Club - has set up a Foundation with an emphasis on nurturing

young talent.

Mind you, I should tread carefully on issues of historical firsts. Not only has there been some debate in

Australia on this, but internationally there is debate as to where the great game of golf first emerged.

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Some historians speak of references to a game similar to golf in 11th Century Chinese manuscripts and the

Dutch have laid claim to a similar game dating back to 1297.

The Scots still seem to have the edge, however, with their claim that the direct antecedent of the modern

game began there in the mid-fifteenth century, when it became so popular that King James had to ban it for

military reasons - citizens were playing too much “gowf”, as it was known, and neglecting their archery.

Whatever the truth of its origins, proof of the worth of the game is that those who benefit from your

Foundation, and from the pleasure and respect that players like Matthew Giles and Matthew Gleeson are set

to bestow, will now be able to play almost anywhere in the world.

Even perhaps, one day, on the moon? Who can forget astronaut Alan Shepard’s famous 1971 golf shot on the

moon when he landed with the third Apollo moon mission. With a Spalding six-iron head attached to a lunar

sample scoop handle, he duffed his first shot, which only went a hundred feet; but his second shot, which he

hit squarely sent the ball as he said "miles and miles." Golf in space. Now that is a feat for our young players

to aspire to.

Congratulations again to the Australian Golf Club Foundation and many thanks to your supporters.

May you produce many more Matthew’s and Mary’s to grace the golf courses of Australia and the world, thus

inspiring other young golfers as well as talented young players in other sporting disciplines.

Thank you

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