Date: April 05, 2018
Author: Dave Tease

The man who didn�t drive down Magnolia Lane

His picture hangs proudly on the wall at St. Michael’s Golf Club down at Little Bay, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

He beat some of the game’s finest to win the 1956 New Zealand Open as an amateur, bettering household names like Kel Nagle, Bob Charles, and Peter Thomson.

It was shortly after the remarkable New Zealand Open win that Harry Berwick, a quietly spoken brickie from Maroubra, received an unexpected letter – an invitation to compete in the 1957 Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

He kept it quiet, however, and never went.

“I played with him over many years and knew him well. He was such a nice guy,”

“He got an invitation to play in The Masters after he won the New Zealand Open, but he gave it the flick," longtime friend, Life Member and former Chairman of the NSWGA, Bruce Nairn said.


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Rumours abound about the reasons why Berwick didn’t take up the invitation, or why he didn’t let it be known he had been invited at all.

“He didn’t tell anybody and just never went.

“He was too embarrassed to ask anybody for the money,” Jeff Wagner, General Manager at St. Michael’s Golf Club said.

“Harry was a bricklayer, and they never got paid much, nobody did really. You have got to remember it was after the war and you had to take what work you could," Nairn said.

“He wouldn’t have dreamed of letting anyone at the club know. They would’ve held fundraisers and the like, and Harry just wasn’t like that; it was a measure of the guy.

"He was never one to thrust himself forward in that way," he added.

Nairn said the Masters Tournament had already developed quite a reputation by then, despite the limited TV coverage available. He said the coveted invitation would have been eagerly taken up by any one of the talented Aussie amateurs playing back then.

“I don’t think anyone else in the amateur ranks in Australia back then would have knocked it back, but he did," Nairn added.

Diminutive in stature, Nairn described Berwick’s effective swing as one-of-a-kind.

“He wasn’t the greatest short putter in the world, but he was a good long putter and a great striker of the ball in all weather.

“He used to swing the club like it was a prawning net.

“It was self-taught, and hardly anyone could’ve copied it,” Nairn said.

Wagner, who represented NSW, played a lot of golf with Berwick in his later years and agreed with Nairn’s assessment.

“He used to hit one irons into a gale on the 8th here at St. Michael’s. It was like a low fade that would get on the downslope and run.

“You’d call it a ‘Tiger’ stinger now,” Wagner added.

Berwick hardly mentioned the invitation as the years went by. The St Michael’s archives show it took some time for him to break out the coveted gilt-edged invitation for the membership to admire, and then it still took a bit of prodding.

“I played a fair bit with him in his later years,” Wagner said. “And he rarely talked about it.”

Berwick’s amateur career spanned more than three decades. Along the way he collected a swag of titles including two Australian Amateurs, four NSW Amateurs, and won the Eisenhower Cup for Australia in 1966.

He eventually turned professional at the age of 53 or so, long before the idea of a senior professional circuit.

“Christ knows why he did,” Nairn mused. “There was no incentive to turn pro back then.”

But with The Masters on everyone’s minds this week, the question most would like answered is ‘How would Berkwick have went?

In Nairn’s eyes, had Berwick travelled to Augusta, he's convinced he would have gone OK.

“To beat Nagle and Thomson at their top, he must’ve been playing well,” he smiled.

*Berwick, who was awarded an MBE for his services to golf, sadly passed away in 1988, aged 65.