IT says much about the late, great Norman von Nida when legends of the game willingly contribute to ensure the legendary Australian is immortalised.
Von Nida was honoured at Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane recently when the Von Bronze was unveiled as a permanent reminder of his contribution to the game.
Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Sir Nick Faldo and Wayne Grady helped sponsor the Von Bronze project.
These men had enormous respect for the “little master”, who was the trailblazer for many Australian golfers who followed him overseas.
Thomson, Player and Nicklaus called the Von a friend and penned forewords in his book simply titled The Von (with Ben Robertson).
“I wish I had known Norman in his younger days, to see him when he played some of his best golf,” wrote Nicklaus, who first met the Von at the Australian Open in 1962.
“I did, however, follow his career enough to know that his understanding of the game and his ability to teach it were talents shared by few people in this world.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, we were fortunate to have Norman join us as a guest instructor at Muirfield Village. Our members admired him as a teacher.
“As a teacher, the Von always had an uncanny ability to simply watch you swing and, without looking at the ball, tell you where it went and why.
“Of course, we always kidded him that he simply couldn’t see the ball, which reminds me of one of my favourite stories.
“We invited Norman to join us for dinner one evening at our home in Muirfield Village and he drove over in a golf cart.
“It had gotten dark by the time he was leaving so I asked, ‘do you want someone to take you home’? ‘Nah’, he assured me, ‘I’ll be fine’.
“Not more than 10 seconds after he left the house we heard a loud crash. The Von had run head on into the first tree in his path. Pure feistiness.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to pay tribute to Norman.”
Gary Player first met the Von in the 1950s.
“Norman was an enthusiast with a great sense of humour and boundless energy,” Player wrote.
“He became a close friend and adviser, which was enormously helpful to me as a rookie on tour.
“When my wife Vivienne and I visited Australia we stayed with Norman and his wife Elva.
“We shared many happy occasions and I will always be grateful to Norman for his advice and kindness.
“Norman was one of the first great Australian golfers and was an excellent role model for many young Aussies who would follow through the years.”
Thomson wrote: “He (von Nida) inflamed my small passion (for the game), igniting it into a raging fire.
“He will be remembered, hopefully, as a pathfinder of the Australian golfer who followed him to Europe and the USA, me included.”
Dignitaries from Nudgee Golf Club, Royal Queensland, Golf Australia and the PGA of Australia attended the unveiling of the Von Bronze.
The bronze statue was unveiled by von Nida’s daughter Kerrie Easdown, Andrew Mullins, the grandson of the man who first discovered and introduced the Von to golf at Nudgee, Tom Mullins, and the presidents of Nudgee and Royal Queensland.
“It was wonderful to see the club members, sponsors and staff embrace this project,” said Nudgee Golf Club general manager Aaron Muirhead.
“Club members and visitors will certainly appreciate this feature of one of its past members and an Australian sporting great well into the future.”
Norman Von Nida passed away in May 2007, aged 93.