Lydia Ko celebrates her win with the Royal Melbourne staff
Royal Melbourne chief executive Paul Rak has seen most things in golf, but this even blew him away.
In the euphoric aftermath of Lydia Ko’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open victory on Sunday, the world No.1 did the rounds of presentations, official photos and media commitments.
She was a hit in a visit to the volunteers, signing and posing for more happy snaps.
But then came the moment that sealed her reputation in the eyes of those even further behind the scenes of our national championship.
Ko wandered up the clubhouse stairs to make her last brief scheduled stop at the champion’s cocktail party, then quietly slipped an envelope containing $500 into the hands of assistant GM Andrea Watson to kickstart the staff’s “after-party”.
It was the New Zealander’s way of saying thanks to all those who almost anonymously helped make her triumph so memorable on one of her favourite courses.
But Rak said it was the ultimate in class acts.
“I’ve worked in the golf industry for 40 years and I’ve never heard of anything like that – especially from a 17-year-old,” he said.
“She’s a class act – I can’t say enough about her. She was very approachable to all our members and talked to them. She’s just a great ambassador for the game and has a great appreciation of what makes clubs and tournaments work.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have great golfers out here in the past couple of years who have been a delight to have around. Adam Scott was very giving, Matt Kuchar and Jason Day were tremendous, too.
“With them and Lydia, it gives you a lot of confidence in where golf is going and the type of people involved.”
“She made a good impression on a lot of people, that’s for sure … and made a lot of our staff and volunteers very happy.
“She’s a credit to golf and those around her.”