as 55 years ago, almost to the day, that eight young Queenslanders boarded an aeroplane for Adelaide to represent the state at the Australian Interstate Teams’ Series.
Well, last month the pioneering team of 1961 gathered at The Brisbane Golf Club where they were joined by teammates from the 1962 and ’63 teams at a luncheon hosted by Golf Queensland’s CEO Lindsay Ellis and chairman Peter Castrisos.
The get-together was attended by 10 players from the 1961-’62-’63 series and coincided with the 2016 Australian Interstate Teams’ Series.
Queensland team captain Garth Johnstone, who organised the reunion, was joined by former teammates Ron Hancock, Randall Vines, Graham Tippetts, Ross Petersen, Lance Pennington, Ken McLean, Joe Kiernan, Michael Fitzgerald, Garth Peters and Gary Wright who joined the team in 1964.
Three members of the 1961-’62-’63 teams – Barry Brown, Graham McCarthy and Brian Roebig – had other commitments while former team member Neil Humphries passed away prematurely many years ago.
“We wanted to recognise the tradition established by these teams and celebrate what has been a lifetime involvement for many of the players,’’ Golf Queensland chairman Peter Castrisos said.
Johnstone, now 73 and a member at Carbrook Golf Club, enjoyed returning to The Brisbane Golf Club where, as a barefoot youngster, he jumped the fence and play a few holes with former teammate Barry Brown.
“I helped organise the reunion because I am getting long in the tooth and wanted to get together with some of the guys I haven’t seen for 50 years,” Johnstone said.
“It’s been fantastic to catch up with the guys, who have hardly changed in appearance. I’m amazed we got so many here.”
There was plenty of laughter and reminiscing about good times representing Queensland and also stories of hip and knee replacements.
“For many of us, a highlight was dressing up (blazer, tie, grey trousers and black shoes) and going on a plane for the first time,” Johnstone said. “We had no idea what to expect.
“I was 18 when selected in the Queensland team and the age limit for junior play back then was 21,’’ he recalled.
“It was exciting and it’s been a good ride. I certainly don’t have any regrets.”
Of the 1961-’62-’63 teams only Randall Vines turned professional.
Asked if he’d consider turning professional had he had his time over, Johnstone was quick to say “no never”.
“Aside from Randall (Vines) we weren’t good enough,” he said. “We all had home-made swings compared to the kids today.
“They have different physiques to us, they go to the gym and work out and they hit the ball miles. They are professionally coached and most of the modern day players all have the same way of swinging the club.”
Following the luncheon, some of the 1961-963 teams walked the fairways in support of the Queensland team who played and defeated Western Australian.
FOOTNOTE: Garth Johnstone is in the process of organising a November reunion of players who represented Queensland between 1961 and 1969.