Every journalist ever afforded the luxury of writing an opinion piece has probably heard of the infamous Jon Landau review of Bruce Springsteen’s “breakout” concert in 1974.
Landau famously wrote that he had seen the future of rock and roll, in what turned out to be a brilliant assessment of a musical newcomer.
As a sports reporter, I’ve often had that story in the back of my mind in watching youngsters take their first steps out on to a grand stage, then seizing that moment as if they’d been tailor-made for it from birth.
Leaving Dubbo Golf Club tonight, hundreds of tongues will be wagging about the epic shootout witnessed in the past two days.
Many will rightly have loved Daniel Gale’s first big win on home soil; others will have marvelled at Justin Warren ripping the centre of the course apart and being able to shoot a closing 63 to go so near the victory that surely soon will have his name on it; and yet more will have watched Josh Armstrong hit the ball comfortably beyond mere mortals’ wildest dreams.
RIGHT: Gale won the title, but all walked away impressed with Grace Kim from Dubbo. PHOTOS: David Tease/Golf NSW.
But without fail, they will be talking about Grace Kim.
That’s not to detract from Gale and his stellar performance, particularly after he had to practise in Queensland throughout the winter to keep his hand in while Covid ravaged his Sydney base.
It’s just to say that if 500 or more people watched Kim play, every one of them will have been genuinely impressed – maybe even amazed – that she was able to hold her own against the men of the PGA of Australia.
Yes, she played off the red tees. But she constantly outplayed the men with her iron approaches, even when she was spotting them dozens of metres.
Kim was one of the most decorated and widely travelled amateur golfers Australia has ever produced, but this was her FIRST tournament as a professional in her home country.
And it doesn’t hurt her magnetism factor that she’s one of the most delightful young women you could meet and is only too happy to talk to galleries – particularly the kids who were drawn to her undoubtable aura.
"I will absolutely say that Kim has enormous potential to be able to sway the way young women perceive the sport." - Mark Hayes.
So was this Bruce Springsteen?
The simple answer to that is no, primarily because I’ve had the rare privilege to be able to watch her ascension through the ranks, thereby limiting the immediate “wow factor”.
But that’s splitting hairs.
I will absolutely say that Kim – and her fellow Karrie Webb Scholarship winners Hannah Green, Su Oh and Minjee Lee immediately before her – has enormous potential to be able to sway the way young women perceive the sport.
In fact, the way all Aussie sport fans view golf.
This was fun, her interaction with playing partners Lonard, Millar, Gale and Dann over two days showing absolutely that she belongs.
Golf New South Wales (my employer this week, all things on the table) should be absolutely commended for taking the Golf Challenge NSW Open qualifiers to the regions; and again for having the wisdom to know that Kim would not be out of her depth.
On the contrary, she swam rings around many of her male rivals and showed the format has an immediate place in the Australian golfing calendar, just as the Vic Open and TPS events have already shown.
It’s not a gimmick. These women are brilliant and I can’t wait for the day that their appearance barely rates a mention as the norm.
Stay tuned, Aussie golf fans. And more importantly, put all your voice and weight behind this crop of female talent that we are so lucky to have carrying our flag right now.
Will Grace Kim be the next Bruce Springsteen? Will the new cohort lift the female side of our sport to a previously unseen level of notoriety in mainstream media and social conscience?
The answers will only present themselves in time.
But in the meantime, I am using the privilege of my soapbox to “dip the lid” to Kim – that was bloody exciting to watch.
And if the buzz around Dubbo golf fans tonight is any indication, maybe a legend was indeed born to run.