By JOHN HALL
AS a Brighton Primary schoolboy Daniel Blackwell spent his spare time belting a golf ball around a paddock. The hazards were roaming goats and cows.
Two decades later, Daniel who is assistant pro at Royal Hobart Golf Club, has returned home to Tasmania after captaining a young Australian golf team to a world championship in Japan.
“Golfing has been my passion every since I was a kid growing up in Elderslie, on the road from Brighton,” said 30-year-old Daniel, adding with genuine modesty, “I’ve accomplished a lot at a young age, but it’s been hard work.”
His latest accomplishment – and the one he’s proudest of – was to mentor a squad of four young Australian golfers who took on the best in the world in June – and won!
The golfers – Oliver Goss, Anthony Murdaca, Rikudai Kato and Viraat Badhwar – are from secondary schools in mainland states. Daniel travelled to Tokyo as their captain (manager) and assistant coach. Head coach was acclaimed Australian golfer Peter Knight.
“In Tasmania you can be left behind, be unnoticed on the national scene,” said Daniel. “I believe my self-motivation got me the job of captaining these excellent young golfers.”
The squad competed in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup 2012. Initially 60 national teams from the six continents fought it out in regional qualifying events. Thirteen teams, including Australia, teed off in the finals in Japan in June.
After four rounds, the Australian team won by just two strokes, from Japan and Canada which were equal second. United States finished fourth.
“It was a nail-biting finish,” Daniel said. “After the third round we were sitting around sixth, but our guys stormed home in the final round. It’s the first year Australia has won the Junior Golf World Cup, which has been held annually for 10 years.”
Other nations are now looking at Golf Australia’s successful high performance training program, of which Daniel is now a key participant. “My responsibilities in this program will increase,” said Daniel. “When it comes to training elite golfers in Australia, I want to be among the leaders of the pack. I get so much satisfaction from helping golfers reach their full potential.”
That potential can be for golfers on the world stage … or back on the Royal Hobart course, where Daniel as assistant pro has 100 golfers of all ages and skill levels on his books. He’s also coach of the Tasmanian Junior Team.
Due to heavy coaching commitments, Daniel has only had time to compete in a few competitions. He won the Tasmanian PGA professionals championship in 2010 and the Tasmanian PGA foursomes event in 2005.
Daniel said he had a great time attending Brighton Primary. “I had a good group of friends and I enjoyed the company of teachers.”
He played Aussie rules and soccer in the school grounds, but his golfing was a home-spun passion.
Growing up on the family farm ‘Kellie’, at the age of eight he was given a golf club by his great-grandfather Walter, who was patron of the Elderslie golf club.
“He gave me a Greg Norman number eight iron. I used it so much I wore the number off it,” Daniel recalled.
“I practised in the paddocks around our home, making sure I didn’t lose the balls and also I had to avoid the goats and cows. My aim was to hit straight and my favourite target was a power pole.”
After secondary schooling at St Virgil’s and a few years at Elizabeth College, Daniel pursued his passion. At the age of 21 he became a golf professional – after being awarded the highest level AAA accreditation by the PGA, and a pre-requisite for that is playing off scratch.
He has instructed at Tasmania Golf Club and Kingston Beach Golf Club before moving to Royal Hobart two years ago.
He’s happy there, but a world of further golfing challenges awaits.
• The winning Australian team in the recent Toyota Junior Golf World Cup championship in Japan.From left: Dan Blackwell (non-playing captain), Rikudai Kato, Anthony Murdaca, Viraat Badhwar, Oliver Goss and Peter Knight (coach).
• Daniel Blackwell became a professional at 21 years of age.
• Daniel in action early in his career.