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Golf Australia Express : January 2013
THE YEAR WAS 1988 when Tom Hanks acted out every young boy’s dream. A much skinnier Hanks was Josh Baskin in Big, a harmless but wildly successful comedy about a kid who is granted a wish to become a man, while remaining the same 12-year- old on the inside. Hilarity ensues as Baskin lives out every kid’s wildest fantasies, including being paid to be the research guy at a toy manufacturer (and fooling a fair maiden into believing that he’s the real deal). If you watched any of the Australian PGA Championship some 24 years later, some of this is probably ringing a bell. A man with the will and, more importantly, the means to make good on his crazy flights of fancy did exactly that. Eighteen months earlier, mining billionaire and No.1 on Queensland’s rich list Clive Palmer had bought the home of the PGA Championship, the Hyatt Regency Coolum. We’ve all seen what happened next—the place was an amusement park masquerading as a championship golf layout in November, with a life-sized dinosaur named Jeff overlooking the course and more than 60 sponsor-emblazoned logos dotted across the layout—including some ludicrously spray-painted onto fairway landing areas. Anyone with even a passing interest in golf would have laughed, if the situation and what happened next weren’t so serious. Just a few weeks later, the tournament’s future at Coolum was well and truly beached, with Palmer and organisers at an impasse over how much dough he planned to plough into the event, should it remain at his resort. Whether or not turning a course into Jurassic Park is an image we really want projected to the world at one of our biggest and most storied tournaments is an argument we’ve thrashed out countless times in recent months, but most pundits seem to accept that we may have to make a few embarrassing concessions if we want to keep our big tournaments alive. THERE ARE TWO SCHOOLS of thought on Palmer. Those who yearn for the glory days of Australian golf, when the dulcet tones of Sandy Roberts sang out of the box on a Sunday arvo and the world’s best made the annual trip to our top courses, may see him as the kind of bloke the sport here needs. A game struggling for sponsors and air time as time-poor Australians chase quicker sporting thrills can ill-afford to lose a man like Palmer, who is cashed-up and prepared to spend. Even more encouraging is that he seems to actually like golf. And even the haters couldn’t deny A game struggling for sponsors and air time can ill-afford to lose a man like Palmer, who is cashed-up and prepared to spend. Hear Clive Palmer's grand plans for Coolum and the Sunshine Coast in the Sunrise video above. COVER the COVER the