Just about everyone in the Australian golf industry has a story about Jarrod Lyle. But a new book – "My Story" – to be released in August is the man’s own words together with writers Mark Hayes and Martin Blake, Lyle’s wife Briony the driving force behind the publication since his passing.
The book, as anyone would have easily guessed having ever met Jarrod or heard him speak about Challenge (the charity that helped him as a teenager with cancer), will see all proceeds and royalties go to charity to help support children and families living with cancer.
The goal of delivering Jarrod’s story and helping others outweighed any thoughts of quickly releasing the book last year in the wake of his death on August 8.
“The best decision I have probably made was to not have it released last year, because it just didn’t feel right to me. There were suggestions to get it out for Christmas to capitalise on the sales and whatever, but it wasn’t about that, it has never been about that,” Briony told Golf Australia magazine.
“I didn’t want to put a rushed product out there, I just wanted it to be right, because once it gets out there, that’s it. It is what it is. So, the product that we could have put out for Christmas wouldn’t have been anywhere near satisfactory in my mind, so I am really glad that we didn’t and we took the extra time and added a bit of extra detail that we needed and made sure that we got it right.”
The result is certainly “right” as Briony puts it.
Compiled after endless hours of recording with Lyle by Golf Australia’s media manager Hayes – a close friend of Jarrod – and fellow veteran sportswriter Blake, the story of the boy from Shepparton’s rise up the ranks of Australian golf and three battles with acute myeloid leukaemia unsurprisingly makes for harrowing stuff.
And in talking about the finished product as she embarks on a semi-book tour to get the message out, Briony also revealed another unsurprising fact about the hardcover book with her husband’s face looking up from the front cover.
“I was heavily involved, once the recording was finished and the writers had put together their first draft, I have been quite heavily involved from then onwards. But that still didn’t really prepare me for physically receiving the first final copy of the book, which I found to be actually very confronting and emotional when it arrived in the mail.
“Even though I knew it was coming, I knew exactly what it was, but I was still quite emotional to open it up and see the absolute finished product, despite the fact that I had approved every detail along the way. And I still am not ready to sit down and read it again as it is now, in its final form. But reading printed A4 pages as drafts along the way, I was ok, but now that it’s actually the finished, beautiful, glossy, lovely book with the cover on it and everything, I can’t read it.”
Although at this stage not ready to sit down and read the book, Briony acknowledges the benefit of the story for her and Jarrod’s daughters Lusi and Jemma.
Surrounded by reminders of their dad every day, and endless people ready to tell their favourite Jarrod story, the girls certainly don’t need the book to remember the man he was, but when older will have his own words documented to surely be read again and again – something Briony originally didn’t envisage but is coming to appreciate.
“Throughout the whole process I never really stopped and thought about them (Lusi and Jemma) as readers until probably the very end, and it was prompted by a comment from somebody else and it kind of stopped me in my tracks, and I thought, of course the girls are going to read it. And they will probably come across this book, far earlier than they would come across other books of this genre.
“Lusi is only seven but is a great reader and loves picking things up and reading them and it would not surprise me in the next 12 months if she starts to read a few pages here and there. That will obviously open up a whole new range of discussion. They were never the target audience, so I don’t know why it took so long to sit back and think of course they are going to read it one day and hopefully proudly show it to their own kids.”
With the admission that the book was never created for the Lyle’s themselves, it would be easy to think there is a particular message to be felt by all who read My Story. However, Briony believes there is something different for everyone who picks up a copy.
“I don’t actually know what people are going to get from it to be honest, there isn’t a single overriding message that we were hoping to project. We could have, it could have been a way for us to use it as a platform for something, but given what happened with Jarrod and I think that people are just interested in the story as it is, as it existed.”