Golfer Ian Stanley was a prolific winner on the Australian tour.
Golfer Ian Stanley was a prolific winner on the Australian tour.

Australian golf champion Ian Stanley dies

AUSTRALIAN golf is mourning the loss of one of its greatest characters, Ian Stanley.

The Victorian has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

A prolific winner in Australia and Europe, Stanley's huge personality and warmth set him apart - and often disguised his golfing brilliance.

At his peak, Stanley won a swag of Australian state titles, claiming 30 victories as a professional, celebrating success and failure with trademark gusto.

Lazily stereotyped because of his revelling, Stanley was among Australia's finest exports in the early 1970s along with Jack Newton, Bob Shearer, Stewart Ginn and Rodger Davis.

Competing on the European Seniors Tour, having belatedly mastered concentration techniques, Stanley won the 2001 Seniors British Open.

Revered for his charitable works, Stanley was a prime mover in establishing the Jack Newton Trust after his good friend's horrific accident in 1983.

Golf - golfer Ian Stanley tees off at the Australian Masters in 1993
Golf - golfer Ian Stanley tees off at the Australian Masters in 1993

Stanley travelled the country raising funds for Newton.

He was also relentlessly active in supporting grassroots golf, and a director of not-for-profit organisation Tee Up for Kids, which raises money for underprivileged children in Victoria.

A few months ago, having repeatedly defied mountainous odds, the endlessly courageous Stanley wrote of his battles in Australian Golf Digest.

"About two-and-a-half years ago and while only in my mid-60s, I found I was running out of energy just doing the day-to-day stuff, let alone playing golf," he wrote.

"My GP sent me for tests and after spending 12 days in hospital they could not find anything wrong with me.

"Originally they thought it might have been a heart problem I had, because in England in 2004 I'd had heart palpitations and went 'arse over tit' at Wentworth.

"When they could not find anything, they decided to do a big scan of my whole body and that's when they found a cancerous growth the "size of a cantaloupe" in one of my kidneys.

"When they went to take it out, the surgeons also found that unfortunately the cancer had progressed into a major vein and was causing a blockage. It had to be removed.

This is usually a death sentence, but the surgeon was a mad keen golfer and reckoned that I was fit and strong enough to survive the operation.

"I spent eight days in intensive care and a further two weeks in hospital before coming home.

"Now the cancer has gone into my spine for the third time and it has come to the point where we don't think we can beat it. But we've put up a good fight."

Several of Stanley's lifelong mates, including Newton, Shearer, Richmond premiership coach Tony Jewell and Carlton great Mark Maclure, gathered recently at Huntingdale Golf Club to pay homage.

"It was a fantastic day and Jack was in great form. I would have loved to have had Peter Thomson there, too," Stanley said of his hero, who passed away on June 20.

Stanley said Thomson had visited him not long before his death.

"On hearing I was ill, he visited me in hospital and I gave him a hug," Stanley wrote. "Don't press too hard," he said. "I'll cry."

Stanley is survived by his wife Pam, three children and seven grandchildren.

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