Current Australian and New South Wales rugby league representative Jake Trbojevic is fairly new to the game of golf. But the Manly Sea Eagles lock is not short on golf memories. Both good and bad.
Trbojevic has become one of the most popular young players in the sport he plays for a living. The hard working, tackling machine, known as one of the nicest men in rugby league, similarly throwing himself into golf since being introduced to the game by his former captain Jamie Lyon, a diehard golfer himself.
Jake’s brother and Manly teammate Tom has also become a keen golfer, the two taking the chance to sharpen their golf games and keep their competitive fire burning during the coronavirus enforced hiatus of the NRL season.
“It was definitely ‘Killer’ (Lyon),” Trbojevic, who plays of 16, told Golf Australia magazine of how he got into golf. “He was just really into it and I had just started playing footy with them, then I went to the driving range a couple of times, and then just got into.
“Started practicing with him, we would go to the driving range at Narrabeen or out the back of ‘Rat Park’ and hit some, and then he encouraged me to sign up at Mona Vale, and then I started playing comps with him and some of the other boys. And just got the massive golf bug from there. Just crazy, used to play Wakehurst as well, just comps all the time, it was great.
“When we first stopped playing footy back six weeks ago, that week Tom and I played almost every day. It was great. The last couple of weeks, with the two ball tee times and rules at the club about playing two days in a row and stuff, it has been hard to play as much, but it has been great for something to do, keep the mind going and a bit of competitiveness.
RIGHT: Trbojevic's worst moment in the game involved Australian golf legend Terry Price. PHOTO: Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images.
“Tom’s actually got me at the moment. His handicap is lower than mine, he has had a couple of really good rounds, we played at Mona Vale one day and Tom was playing great, he was seven over on the 15th tee, then he birdied 15, 17 and 18.
“Three birdies in four holes to have four over off 13 (45 points). Then he had another round at Monash where he shot seven over. So, his handicap is lower than mine, which is disappointing, got to fix that up.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, for a professional athlete known for his teamwork and willingness to do whatever is needed of him to achieve a win on the rugby league field, Trbojevic’s first thoughts turned to another’s achievements when asked for his favourite moment in golf.
The 26-year-old also seemingly in awe of another professional’s ability to perform under intense pressure on their own stage.
“I went and watched the final round of the Australian Open last year at The Australian Golf Club. I know the coaches out there a bit, Gary Barter obviously coaches Matt Jones and Allan Bull is a massive Manly fan, so I went out there and followed Matt around the whole day with them.
“We had AO radio on and knew that Louis Oosthuizen had eagled the last, and then Matt had to get up-and-down at the last to win the Aussie Open. That was pretty epic.
“That was cool seeing that live, that was real heart in mouth stuff, and being with Gary, he was very nervous.
“It was special watching the tournament final stages with the coach of the guy who is trying to win it, and especially because he was the Australian with everyone behind him. It was a really cool atmosphere.
“I’ve got a couple of favourite memories from my own golf as well.
“One was recently, I was playing at Terrey Hills, and I had been playing terrible and somehow had 47 points. That was a great moment for myself.
“I was playing with one of my sponsors, G Brothers at Mona Vale, they’re corporate members up there, and I shot my best round ever. Had eight over off the stick somehow, don’t know how but I just did.
“That was cool, just a really nice memorable day on the golf course.
“And another one was when I was playing with ‘Killer’, one of my first rounds at Mona Vale after just getting into the game. I was off 32, we were on the 15th hole, which is index one there, and I got a three for five points. That was pretty cool at the time, just getting into playing and managing a five pointer and a birdie was cool.”
But like all golfers, the learning curve in the game has come with its less memorable moments. One, featuring a former European Tour player, sticking with Trbojevic more than any other, in part, thanks to his old skipper.
“I was playing the 9th hole at Wakehurst Golf Club in a Legends Tour pro-am and had played the hole terribly.
“I was at the bottom of the hill below the pretty severely raised green, I wasn’t that far off the green, but there is a bit of a drop.
“I said ‘Boys, I will just chip this’ because I had to chip in for a six a one.
“So, I went to hit the shot, I had to get it up pretty quickly, sort of a flop shot, and I absolutely thinned it at Terry Price, who was our pro for the day.
“He tried to move and his caddie was in the way, so he moved into his caddie and it just hit Terry straight in the ribs. I don’t think I have ever felt so bad. I could have just left the course then. I was seriously so rattled, it was tough.
“And then on top of that, I had Killer giving it to me the rest of the way, which didn’t help.
“We got on the next tee, I must have said sorry to Terry 50 times by now, luckily he is one of the all-time great blokes and didn’t care, and told me not to worry about it, but I was worried.
“So, I am on the 10th, put my ball on the tee and I am about to hit and Terry is standing behind me, and Killer says ‘Watch out Terry! Watch out, mate!’ (laughs).
“That’s got to definitely be my worst moment in golf.”