Jack Newton is being remembered as a maverick mate and an inspiration as Australia’s sports community mourn the death of the golf great.
Newton passed away overnight, aged 72, from what his family described as health complications.
He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years,
Newton’s impact on golf spread from his decorated playing days, to commentary, to course design.
His playing career, which featured an Australian Open win and victories on the PGA Tour and European Tour, ended when he lost an arm and an eye in July 1983 when he walked into a plane’s spinning propeller.
But Newton’s legacy became far greater after the accident, setting up the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation which has helped develop Australia’s young golfers since its 1986 formation.
“Every journey starts somewhere, mine was in golf tournaments under the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation,” golfer Greg Chalmers posted on Twitter.
Fellow golfer James Nitties wrote on Twitter: “Jack Newton not only an amazing golfer but what he and his family did for charity and junior golf in Australia was truely amazing.”
PGA of Australia chief executive Gavin Kirkman lauded Newton’s impact on the game.
“Jack has been such an influential figure in Australian golf and his contribution and legacy will live on for many decades to come,” Kirkman said.
“He was as tough off the course as he was on it.
“Yet underlying everything was his deep passion for the game of golf and the positive impact it could have on people’s lives, particularly young people.
“Our thoughts and best wishes are with the Newton family and the countless friends he met along the way but Jack Newton’s name will forever hold an important place within Australian golf.”
Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Arthur Sinodinos, described Newton on Twitter as “an inspiration for anyone who has faced a terrible accident, showing resilience and grit to rebuild his life and career”.
Newton, whose celebrity classic tournament raised millions of dollars towards diabetes research, was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2016.
Born in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales on January 30, 1950, Newton he turned professional at the age of 21.
The Australian Open of 1979 was one of his three wins on the Australasia Tour and he finished runner-up to Seve Ballesteros at the 1980 US Masters, five years after losing a playoff to Tom Watson at the 1975 Open Championship at Carnoustie.
A family statement on Friday said Newton’s passion for sport and “contributing to future generations of golfers and the Australian community demonstrates the character of our father, beloved husband, proud brother, adoring grandfather, and maverick mate.”