15 Apr 2022 | Industry news |

Golf world rocked by death of Jack Newton

by PGA of Australia

Jack Newton dies image
Jack Newton fought adversity with courage before his death today.

By Tony Webeck

One of Australian golf’s most iconic and influential figures, Jack Newton OAM, has passed away at age 72.

In a statement released by the Newton family on Friday morning, it was announced that Jack had passed away overnight due to “health complications”.

Newton had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years, he and his family sharing his plight with the broader community as his health deteriorated.

Born in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales on January 30, 1950, Newton’s athletic prowess was ultimately channeled into golf and he turned professional at the age of 21.

He would go on to win tournaments on the PGA TOUR (1978 Buick-Goodwrench Open), European Tour (1972 Dutch Open, 1972 Benson & Hedges Festival of Golf, 1974 Benson & Hedges Match Play Championship) and was a three-time winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia, most notably the 1979 Australian Open at Metropolitan Golf Club.

But his playing career is perhaps best remembered for his runner-up finish to Seve Ballesteros at the 1980 Masters at Augusta National and his playoff defeat at the hands of Tom Watson at the 1975 Open Championship at Carnoustie, a tournament many fellow Australians felt he deserved to win.

Jack Newton had one hand on the Claret Jug in 1975 before going down to Tom Watson in an 18-hole playoff.

An accident involving an aeroplane propeller brought his playing career to an end at just 33 years of age but he would continue to impact Australian golf in a myriad of wonderful ways.

A no-holds-barred TV commentator and acclaimed course designer, Newton’s greatest legacy is the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation that has fostered the careers of many elite professionals and impacted the lives of thousands of others while the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic has raised millions of dollars towards diabetes research.

“Jack has been such an influential figure in Australian golf and his contribution and legacy will live on for many decades to come,” said PGA of Australia CEO, Gavin Kirkman.

“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.

“Today, 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.”

Golf Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said Newton's passing was a sad moment for golf. "We all know about his playing career but Jack's contribution to the game with his junior foundation is testament to the person that he was," said Sutherland. "He was a huge figure in the game and the golfing community is going to miss him deeply."

Just last December Golf New South Wales renamed the NSW Junior Boy’s Championship Trophy the Jack Newton Cup, a fitting tribute to one who did so much to encourage junior boys and girls to participate in golf tournaments.

In the statement released on Friday morning, Clint Newton asked for the family’s privacy to be respected but promised that his father’s life will be celebrated in a way befitting such an extraordinary life.

“On behalf of our family, it is with great sadness I announce that our courageous and loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, and mate, Jack Newton OAM has passed away overnight due to health complications,” the statement read.

“Dad was a fearless competitor and iconic Australian, blazing a formidable trail during his professional golfing career between 1971 and 1983 before his career tragically ended following an accident involving an aeroplane propeller at the age of 33.

“He fought back from tremendous adversity as only he could, and chose to selflessly invest his time, energy, and effort towards giving back to the community through his Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation, sports commentary, golf course design, and raising significant funds for several charities, most notably, diabetes.

“His 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.

“Dad’s legacy will live on through his wife Jackie, daughter Kristie, son Clint, grandchildren Matilda, Hope, Jessie, Noah, Paige, and Indie.

“In true Jack Newton style, we will celebrate his incredible life; however, for now, our family asks for privacy and we appreciate everyone’s love, support, and friendship throughout his life.”

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