Farewell to Martyn Black

Nov 27, 2014

As his Career at Castle Hill Country Club draws to a close, Martyn Black chatted with us, about life in the Turf Industry.

During the course of your career, you have visited Australia’s best courses … what is your favourite golf course, and why?
New South Wales Golf Club and Barnbougle Dunes … both are fine Links courses in stunning settings. In my opinion, New South Wales is a better course than Pebble Beach.

What is your single best work related achievement as Superintendent of Castle Hill CC?
Designing and constructing the entire 5th hole to the satisfaction of Graeme Grant, who was responsible for every other hole except the 16th.

You were Superintendent at Castle Hill when hosting the Canon Challenge when it was a regular tour event ….. what are your best recollections of the events?
During my tenure at Castle Hill, we hosted 5 Canon Challenges. Each event was in February, which is the worst month for our greens. I remember giving a massive verbal spray to one golf professional who made the mistake of saying the greens were too wet … (it was a Tuesday practice round, with the temperature at 46 degrees). Needless to say, he didn’t make the cut, and I think his ears were still ringing when he hit off on the Thursday!

I had a big drink with golfing legend Bob Shearer on the Thursday night of one of the Cannon’s when he was doing TV commentary for channel 10. He went on to mention my name several times in the broadcast saying what a great job the boys and I had done in getting the course in such great shape. Lesson – you must look after your drinking mates because the course was actually pretty ordinary!

Alan Jones rang me for his talkback show one morning, about the huge crowds present for the final round when Paul Gow shot 60 …. My wife cannot stand the bloke, so I thought I would get in trouble at home just for talking to him. Anyway, when I told him that the atmosphere that afternoon was euphoric, he made the mistake saying that it was a big word for a greenkeeper. To which I replied, ‘yeah … can you spell it?’ … and I hung up in his ear.

These Tournaments were great fun, and the ‘frothies’ in the carpark on the Sunday night/Monday morning were legendary.

You have met many people in the Turf industry all over Australia …. Who is the funniest and why?
I can narrow it down to FOUR ……. Peter Watts, Tony Fogarty, John Penberthy and Rod Cook; all different in their style of humor, but all naturals and very Australian.

Most people are aware of your golfing ability …. What is your greatest golfing achievement? And ….Best round ever?
I won the Castle Hill Spring Cup the first year I worked here, against a field that included the NSW state team. I also finished 4th in the Pennant Hills Cup when I was 19. That field included 6 current or former Eisenhower Cup Players. I remember that well, because some of the members around the 18th green said that they didn’t even know I owned a pair of golf shoes …. They had only ever seen me in bare feet!

Best round I ever had was probably at The Dunes in Victoria, when I won my one and only Toro RED Jacket. It was around 3 degrees, and the wind was so strong you could hardly stand up. Only one other player broke 80 that day.

I have shot 64 twice at my home club ‘Royal Asquith’. Once in my 20’s and once in my 50’s …. That’s why golf is the best game in the world.

Not only are you well known for your work as Superintendent at Castle Hill CC, but also for your stand up entertainment at industry functions …. How did this all start?
When my grandfather Jack Black came back from the First World War, he tried to sing at the Hornsby Cabaret to earn a quid. He was also a poet, so I must have got that from him. I started to sing one song on diggers day at Asquith and also on Anzac day at Hornsby RSL where Pa was a foundation Member. It has grown from there and I have out a show together that can go for 40 minutes including poetry and song. If any of your readers want to hire me for corporate gigs I am available, obviously special rates for diggers mates … I am thinking about calling myself, “Ratbag for HIRE” …