Story by Ken Brown, Tee Tree Gully member.
Mike Richards has played a leading role in South Australian amateur golf for the past 60 years. Or almost that long.
He was introduced to the game by his dad at around 8 years of age and caddied for him on a Saturday at North Adelaide. Then he got a putter and a golf ball, while his dad had an ale or two. Didn’t that happen a lot back then?
He played his first 18 hole game on North Adelaide north course when around the age of 10, he had a well-remembered 108. He then joined the club at age 11.
A couple of years later he started working for Brian Auld, the North Adelaide pro, at the Par 3 course every Saturday and Sunday,
regularly riding his bike from home with his clubs on his back.
The money he earned went to buy golf clubs, but I am sure there was a golf book or two also purchased. If you ask Mike who taught him to play, the answer is no one. He read a lot of books though…..
Mike has been a member of three clubs, firstly North Adelaide from 1963 – 73, then Kooyonga 1973 – 93, and finally Tea Tree Gully. From his days at North Adelaide, he won the SA Schoolboys in 1968 ( by 7 shots) and then the SA Junior in 1972, plus the North Adelaide Club Championship in
1971, 72 and 73.
He also played in the SA Junior Team for 5 consecutive years from 1968 to 1972, playing in the winning team in 1971 in Perth.
It was in the 1972 series played at Royal Melbourne where he had the most memorable moment of his career. Playing the 18th against Rodger Davis he hit a 4 wood to about 8 foot, for a one-up victory.
It was during his time at Kooyonga in his 20’s and 30’s that his star shone brightly at a club who had some wonderful players. He won the Club Championship on five occasions, 1975, 76, 83, 85 and 86. The 1976 win he remembers well as he played Chris Bonython, who won the Australian
Amateur that year, in front of a gallery that was estimated at 300 people.
He also played Simpson Cup, Adelaide’s top division of pennant golf, every year playing in seven winning teams, including five in a row from 1973 to 1978. A little side note is, John Littlewood from North Adelaide caddied for him for all 20 years he played for Kooyonga.
Another memorable moment for Mike during this period, was at the 1976 Australian Amateur, played at Royal Adelaide. In the round of 16 of the match-play, he was up against Tony Gresham and defeated him 4-3, being 4 under the card so Gresh did not play badly. He obviously remembers that victory very, very well.
He also holds the record for Simpson Cup games played at 213 over five decades and three clubs. That takes some doing! Whilst he does not have exact records, he believes his winning percentage was around the 60% mark.
Then more recently at Tea Tree Gully he was fortunate to just qualify by age for Senior Pennants in its inaugural year in SA in 2007. He has since played in 11 of the 13 winning teams. Whilst he has not played a great number of games due to work, and missed a couple of finals until he retired a few years ago, he was an important member of the team when the finals came around each year.
A little anecdote that should be told from his younger days, is caddying for one of Australia’s greats at Royal Adelaide in 1965 over 72 holes, in the Advertiser 1000, when he was 14. It was Peter Thomson. Apparently the weather was shocking all four rounds, but he still remembers how good Thomson’s ball striking was who won the event by quite a number of shots. He also remembers, with the bad weather, being the only one on the practice fairway foxing balls in the rain for Thomson. And he got 30 Pound for his efforts, which was not bad money in those days when
you were 14.
He still loves the game and plays three days a week at Tea Tree Gully, where his current handicap fluctuates between 1 and 2. Not bad for a 69 year old. He is again looking forward to this year to playing his part in the Tea Tree Gully Senior Pennant side defending its title and taking the tally to 14 in a row. Well done Michael.