The amazing and tragic life of Jack Newton: Iconic Australian golfer dies at 72

On July 24, 1983, Jack Newton nearly lost his life after an accident that severed his right arm and left him blind in the right eye


                            The amazing and tragic life of Jack Newton: Iconic Australian golfer dies at 72
Newton was also a well-known television, radio and newspaper golf commentator, and a golf course designer (@GolfAust/Twitter)
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Iconic golfer Jack Newton died aged 72. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and reportedly died on April 14  due to “health complications", his family confirmed. “(He) was a fearless competitor and iconic Australian, blazing a formidable trail during his professional golfing career,” his family said. “He fought back from tremendous adversity as only he could."

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Newton won the US PGA Tour’s Buick Open in 1978 and the Australian Open in 1979, as well as three tournaments in Europe before his career ended. On July 24, 1983, he nearly lost his life after walking into the propeller of a small plane he was about to board at Sydney airport. As a result of the propeller accident, the golfer's right arm was severed, he sustained severe injuries to his abdomen and also lost sight in his right eye. Newton, who was 33 at the time of the accident, later said, "Things weren’t looking too good for me. I knew that from the priest walking around my (hospital) bed."

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Newton returned to public life despite the near-fatal accident and went on to become a well-known television, radio and newspaper golf commentator, golf course designer and chairman of the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation. As per its website, the foundation aims to "increase the number of young people playing golf by providing more opportunities for all junior golfers of all ability levels." Newton also taught himself to play golf one-handed, determined not to give up his passion. In the mid-80s, he regularly had scores for 18 holes, which translates to a handicap of about 12 or 14 -- a feat that the healthiest and the most mature players would aspire to achieve. 

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In 1971, Newton turned professional on the European Tour. The following year, he won his first event, the Dutch Open. He went on to win another tournament at Fulford, England, a week later, and the tour’s matchplay championship in 1974.

Newton lost to Tom Watson in a 1975 British Open playoff and tied for second behind Seve Ballesteros at the 1980 Masters. His professional career ended soon after, following the propeller accident. “I always felt that if I came into a major with some good form, then I could be dangerous,” Newton had said. “That’s the way I played golf. Once I got my tail up I wasn’t afraid of anybody.” Newton has left behind his wife, Jackie, his two children, Kristie and Clint, and six grandchildren.

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Tributes poured in on social media soon after the news of his death surfaced. "The support of Jack Newton enabled us to buy VR headsets to help #ENDIAstudy children while getting their blood tests. For many kids it has transformed the experience from scary to fun! We are grateful to the Jack Newton Foundation and our thoughts are with those he loved," one user wrote. "Vale Jack Newton. He was a fine player and was runner-up in the Open and The Masters. Suffered a horrible accident at 33. I enjoyed his golf commentary and so many kids have benefited from his JNJG Foundation. Gone at level par 72," wrote another. 

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"Jack Newton was an important figure in my life. I was a big participant in his Junior Golf Foundation that nurtured myself and all my close friends. And his charity donations to Diabetes was always significant. He always gave me his full attention whenever we spoke. Rest easy," one user commented, while another said, "Every top golfer has produced since the 80s has come through the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation to some extent. More importantly, he got numerous kids off the street and playing golf giving them the chance to develop life skills. What a legendary man!" "Absolutely gutted. Jack Newton gave so many young Aussies opportunities - not just in golf but in life. What an inspirational human he was and a fabulous legacy he’s left. A true Australian icon," one user wrote.

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