Tony Rafty, former Fairfax cartoonist, war correspondent and author, died on this day a year ago – three days short of his 100th birthday.
Tony was an avid golfer and one of the earliest members of the Australain Golf Media Association (former AGWA) and a staunch supporter of it.
The following is an extract from ‘Golf Australia’ magazine in 2012:
The most prolific Australian artist in Australian golf is Tony Rafty, born Tony Raftopoulos, in Paddington, Sydney in 1915. Well into his 80s he was still a regular figure in lime green trousers at the big tournaments, walking to the far ends of the course in all weather to sketch the players while scribes a quarter of his age sat in the air-conditioned comfort of the press tent.
Rafty started out selling his caricatures of sporting identities while still at school to the Sydney tabloid newspapers for 1/6 (15 cents). From this he advanced to being appointed a war artist and sketching the surrender of the Japanese in Singapore in 1945. Five of his paintings are in the National War Memorial in Canberra.
Sir William Dargie, a fellow war artist and eight times winner of the Archibald Prize, is an admirer: “Tony Rafty is simply splendid,” he says.”He not only brings an intellectual quality to his work, but he does it so well within a social context that he creates subjects which have a life of their own.”
A handy golfer, Rafty played off scratch and competed in two Australian Opens. He has drawn what he describes as the 300 best golfers of the 20th Century and states proudly that all but half a dozen were done from life.
Among them is Lee Trevino who, like many of the big names, was happy to pose for him. Once, to pass the time, Trevino took Rafty’s folio and flipped through it. “Know, him, know him, don’t know this guy,” he said. Rafty looked into the folder and replied: “He’s a better golfer than you’ll ever be.” The fans seeking autographs were shocked and Trevino’s brow blackened. “That’s Bobby Jones,” said Rafty. “Oh yeah, he could play,” agreed Trevino.
Photo cred: Golf, by TourMiss