Inside Golf : Inside Golf, May 2017
30 May 2017 | www.insidegolf.com.au cover story David Newber y firstname.lastname@example.org I T’S hard to believe this year marks the 50th anniversary since the passing of one of Australia’s greatest golfers – an amateur at that. Ivo Whitton, who was born in 1893 and died in 1967 aged 73, was a legend in Australian golfing circles. In the modern game, it’s hard to imagine his golfing feats being eclipsed. For a start he is, along with Greg Norman, the only Australian to have won the Australian Open five times. Of course, we all remember how good the Shark was but let’s not forget Whitton played golf in a coat and tie, wore plus fours and a floppy hat. What is even more remarkable about this extraordinary amateur golfer is he played with only six clubs in his bag – a two- wood, a one-iron, a five-iron, seven-iron, a wedge and a putter. Oh, and he played off a +8 handicap. So, let’s trawl through history as a reminder of Ivo’s magnificent golfing achievements. His golfing CV tells us he also won two Australian amateur championships and nine state amateur titles including five Victorian, one New South Wales and three Queensland amateur titles. A modest and unassuming man, the king of amateur golf in Australia also captured 17 club championships – nine at Royal Melbourne, four at Barwon Heads, three at Metropolitan and one at Flinders. Born at Moonee Ponds in Melbourne, Whitton took up golf aged 12 after the school dropped him from the cricket team. His father Percy was a keen golfer and young Ivo got started in golf by practising with his dad’s old two-wood. He joined other boys who had designed a five-hole layout in a paddock near his home at Caulfield because in those days young boys were often hounded off the golf course. Apparently, golf club officials were terrified the sight of young boys on the golf course might offend licensing authorities and cost them their liquor license. But cricket remained Whitton’s passion and in 1906 he captained Melbourne Grammar’s Preparatory School team. Overlooked when he entered high school, Ivo decided to concentrate on golf as his public servant father was honorary secretary at Caulfield Golf Club, which later became Metropolitan Golf Club. At 14, Whitton joined the golf club on a handicap of eight and won his first trophy two months later. It didn’t take him long to make the club’s pennant team and by the time he was 16 he was their number one player. In one match, he played against the Hon. Michael Scott, who was Australia’s leading golfer with two Australian Open titles and four Australian amateur titles under his belt. Starting nervously, young Ivo was five-down after 12 holes but rallied to be all square on the 18th tee. Scott won the match one-up, but the result had golfing aficionados predicting a huge future for Whitton. In 1911, Whitton started work at a wool broking company, which allowed him time off to play golf. A year later, just as the critics had predicted, Whitton won the first of his five Australian Open titles. Ivo the great!
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