17 Aug 2021 | Feature stories |

#BigFella40 | Bloody unforgettable

by PGA of Australia

Mark Howard reflects on Jarrod Lyle.

To celebrate what would have been Jarrod Lyle’s 40th birthday, Challenge and the PGA have asked Jarrod’s family, friends, colleagues, and the infinite people he influenced, to share their favourite stories of the affable Tour Professional.

Memories can be funny things. Over time they can fade, distort or even completely disappear.

Meeting Jarrod Lyle for the first time, that’s a memory I will never forget. The big fella in full flow, the definition of unforgettable.

I take you back to the Moonah Classic of 2010. Jarrod was having a good tournament, he was in the mix. As an on-course reporter for Channel Ten, it was my job to speak to the golfers post round.

Such interviews are usually very staid affairs. Pro golfers are typically pretty straight after their round. They can shoot a 62 and barely crack a smile. Shoot a 76, it can be a monosyllabic insight into five hours of torture.

The big boy, it would be fair to say, wasn’t your typical golfer in this respect. After being close to the lead mid round on Saturday, he struggled over the closing stages.

Having never met Jarrod, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when he was ushered my way for a post round chat. Would he refuse to do it like some? Would he be philosophical? Positive? Negative?

In this situation you normally get 30 secs to say g’day, introduce yourself and then go live with the interview.

“Gday Jarrod, Mark Howard mate. Thanks for giving me some of your time.”

And this is why I will never forget my first memory of Jarrod Lyle. Big broad smile, drink in hand, sweat pouring off him. A big meaty handshake delivered.

“Gday knackers. Geez I f***ed that up near the end didn’t I. Bloody hell!” Then a laugh so boisterous, it turned heads on a green 30 metres away. Another thunderous laugh. More heads turned.

I knew from that first meeting that Jarrod Lyle was my type of golfer. My type of man. 

There are very few athletes that if you didn’t know how they performed on the day and you are about to interview them, that you can’t pick their performance by their body language or demeanour. 

Craig Lowndes was one. First or last. You wouldn’t know. Jarrod Lyle was another. 

Getting to know Jarrod from that point, I was always struck by the same thought when I was around him. This bloke should be playing footy in front of 80,000 at the MCG, or walking into a ring with music blaring ready to fight for a world title. Golf? From where I sat, it couldn’t contain the big fella. He was too raw and full of life for it.

Polite golf claps? Jarrod Lyle was more your roaring-from-the-top-of-his-lungs style of operator. 

A wave to the crowd on 18? How about a big, sweaty, bloody bear hug.

A gin and tonic post round? Six beers thanks. 

A BMW slowly leaving the course? A Holden V8, doing patchy’s out the front gate. That was J.

Golf needs more blokes like Jarrod Lyle. Life needs more blokes like Jarrod Lyle. But there will only ever be one Jarrod Lyle.

He was, quite simply, unforgettable.

To find out more about Jarrod’s ongoing legacy as part of Challenge – supporting kids with cancer, head to challenge.org.au/jarrods-gift/

Mark Howard is a distinguished sports commentator on TV and radio, and is host of the popular Howie Games podcast.

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