09 Dec 2012
I will never forget the first time I saw Peter Senior hit a golf ball.
It was on the practice fairway at Glenelg Golf Club in Adelaide at the 1973 Australian schoolboys championship. He had a mop of blond curly hair and tore into the ball hitting it as hard as he could with what looked like both feet in the air at impact. He had a beautiful strike and a high and powerful flight even for a little kid. He didn't win the tournament but he was clearly the best player there and watching him play since has been fascinating.
The story has been told many times but for those who don’t know it went something like this. He would to get dressed in his school uniform but take the bus to the golf course, change into his golf clothes, practice until three, change back into school clothes, get the bus home, change into more golf clothes and his mother would take him to the course to practice until dark.
When his ruse was discovered his mother gave him the ‘just wait until your father gets home’ speech. Called in front of his father to confirm if his truancy was indeed real Senior confessed it was.
‘At least you’re honest’ said his old man, ‘but you seem to be really talented at this golf (he didn’t play) so keep working hard – and don’t dare tell your mum what I just said.’
Download the Official Emirates Australian Open app today
He turned pro at the end of 1978 and early in 1979 – ironically at Glenelg – he won the South Australian Open. He and Wayne Grady went back and forward to Europe for a couple of seasons largely spending all the prize money they had made at home on the local tour but they were learning their craft and getting better.
Pete tried America briefly, didn’t like it and went back to Europe, occasionally Japan and Australia where he was a constant presence on the leader boards all around the country. Greg Norman rightly garnered the bulk of the publicity and the adoration and somehow Senior became the quintessential Aussie battler. Financially astute he was far from that but the blond curls turned grey and then fell out and that only confirmed his image in the eyes of many as a golf grinder.
In truth is an extraordinary talent. He played his way onto the Champions Tour in the United States and the last couple of seasons he has finished in the top fifteen money winners without winning a tournament. He has been close often and for one who has won so often all around the world there can be no question of his capability to win.
Join in the conversation via our Social Hub
A few weeks ago at Kingston Heath at the Australian Masters he was 68,68 on the weekend to finish sixth and this week at The Lakes his patient game puts him right in contention at 212 (75,68,69) only three shots behind another who learned his golf at Brisbane’s Keperra club, John Senden.
He continues to work on his swing – one he revised with Gary Edwin almost a decade ago. It still has the same recognizable look but technically it is improved and he continues to hit terrific shots. The young guys hit with more power but he knows better than most how to play golf well. It’s not all about how you hit and there are some great lessons to be learned from the way he went about forging one of the great careers in Australian golf.