By Mark Hayes, Golf Australia.
Australian golf is mourning the loss of one of its great entrepreneurs, Ray Drummond.
Drummond passed last week aged 84, his life in golf and beyond having shaped those of hundreds of others.
Drummond, who grew up in Sydney, was a professional golfer by age 17, having already been what is now called a trainee pro for two years.
But after being part of a traumatic car crash in 1955 that left him with severe spinal injuries, Drummond rarely played golf again until 1974, when, while working in real estate in central Victoria, he was invited by a friend to play a competition.
His passion revived and with the business acumen he’d gathered in the prevous two decades, he soon took the plunge and opened a store called Ray Drummond Golf in Bendigo that same year.
The rest, as almost every Australian golfer will attest, is history.
From one of the first retail golf stores outside clubs, Drummond’s business thrived.
To Ballarat in 1976, then Melbourne (1977), Dandenong (1978), Frankston (1981), Kew (1982), Preston (1983), Albury (1985), Traralgon (1986), Cheltenham (1987), Shepparton (1987) and Geelong (1990), his fame and brand grew.
Drummond then sold his share in the business, but retained both the Ballarat and Geelong stores which he sold at a later date.
Drummond Golf, a major partner of Golf Australia, has since expanded to 48 franchises nationwide with more than 350 employees.
Drummond Golf chief executive Jamie Cooke said that success was directly attributable to the company’s founder.
“What greater testament to the man than to have his name on the stores of 48 independent business owners who have all had the courage to back themselves in owning their own business, just like he did all those years ago,” Cooke said.
“It is with great sadness we remember our founding father Ray Drummond … a leader, visionary, entrepreneur and a true legend.”
Drummond played golf with the game’s greats, both in Australia and overseas. He played in exhibitions with major champions including Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Johnny Miller and Ian Woosnam.
His passion for golf also led him to lend his hand to course design, playing prominent roles in several clubs including Elmhurst in Victoria’s Pyrenees region and Strathfield and The Coast clubs in Sydney.
He also designed the innovative multi-teed Spa Golf Course at Helidon, near Toowoomba, where he returned to his roots and spent much time as the club professional in recent years. Golf Australia commercial manager Kent Boorman paid tribute to Drummond as a man of honour.
“Drummond Golf has been Golf Australia’s staunch partner for years and to hear all those involved with Ray in that time recall his influence is moving,” Boorman said.
“He was a great businessman, but was equally compassionate and a rock to those who relied on him.
“Our thoughts are with Ray’s wife Denise and his children Ray, Kim, Tracey, Warren, Glenda, Kerrie, Craig, Lee, Alan and Victor and their extended families.”