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Golf Australia Express : January 2013
his generosity. At Christmas he hosted hundreds of people for a lunch at Coolum (controversially asking staff to work for free, mind you). These weren’t Australia’s business elite or the moneymen of Australian golf, but a collection of the state’s disadvantaged, who could certainly use a hot meal more than the resort’s regular clientele. His philanthropy is well-recognised; sharing millions of dollars of his wealth with charities and his employees, 55 of whom received a Mercedes-Benz as a Christmas bonus one year, while another 700 were lavished with overseas holidays. But those on the other side of the argument could rightfully wonder if he cares as deeply about golf? It remains to be seen, but here’s what we do know: the man deals in assets. PALMER BEGAN BUILDING his fortune in property and then branched out into resources, not by building them up from scratch, but buying them on the cheap and turning them into another in his series of financial—and pardon the pun— gold mines. The Hyatt Regency Coolum—and, by extension, the PGA Championship— was bought, as was A-League soccer club Gold Coast United. We saw how that relationship ended. You wouldn’t believe the tale of the Gold Coast’s final month if you hadn’t seen it unfold with your own eyes. In the club’s last days Palmer again exercised his “my way or the highway” approach to his sporting ventures, sacking coach Miron Bleiberg, sending his team onto the field sporting the slogan “Freedom of Speech” on their shirts, thrusting the club’s captaincy on 17-year-old debutant Mitch Cooper and starting a breakaway soccer entity to challenge Football Federation Australia. Not only did Palmer play the prime role in killing the club. As the executioners circled he claimed he didn’t even like soccer, that “it’s a hopeless game” and that the club McDowell loves performing in front of big crowds. Why wouldn't he when they love him back? COVER the COVER the Palmer insists 'Jeff' the T-Rex—seen here during the Australian PGA Championship in December—will become a worldwide tourist attraction.