Ok so it has been a while between drinks…
The best part of a year ago, a dynamic filmmaker Jefferson Grainger approached me to ask whether he could tell my story as part of a film festival called Focus On Ability. Following my humble acceptance, we went to work over 2 incredible days filming and many more for the production and editing team. The result, taking out the most online votes i.e. winning the people’s favourite competition in the open category.
With a rookie talent a.k.a. Moi involved, it shows just how much magic was weaved behind the camera. In case you didn’t catch it during our blanket mass marketing promotional effort, here it is – link
The ultimate high and low of the period played out representing Australia in my first World Disabled Golf Championships alongside a team of 4 amputees. The excitement of them opening up a wheelchair category (a month prior to the tournament starting) and the thrill of an enterprising first nine holes to begin my campaign were slowly, painfully and methodically unwound over the course of the next 2 days.
Without going into the minutia, following back-to-back days of excruciatingly long practice rounds of golf, my group was taken off the course after the 15th hole on the first competitive day due to “bad light”. Day two, I was comically informed on arrival that all the other players who had failed to finish their initials rounds, had completed them earlier that morning and were about to start round 2 together.
If you are surprised reading this then you can imagine my shock and bewilderment hearing it. The Japanese organisers had basically completely forgotton to contact me regarding the early morning tee times and unbelievably were now trying to convince me to view this tournament as a bit of “practice”. This is after I had flown over a caddie, a carer, the Paragolfer and golf clubs at great expense and with hours of logistical planning.
If this wasn’t bad enough, over the next six hours and after much protest, they decided to use the premise of slow golf, in particular my slow golf, as a precedent to disqualify me from the tournament.
Over my short existence on this planet I have never been handled with so little respect and dignity by another human being as I was by the president of the Disabled Japanese Golf Association that day. To say I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth, was a grotesque understatement. The only true saving grace was that the Aussie team managed a final day turnaround to place third and Shane Luke, an above the knee amputee, placed second in the individual competition. Here’s the photo of the team, coach and caddie – my brother Martin.
A significant feature of 2014 was my debut (and Empower Golf’s) on Australia’s Fox Golf Show. Not knowing quite how these mainstream sports channels operate, I was quite happy with the end result. What do you think? Video link here
For a proper Christmas, Sarah and I were lucky enough to travel back to the UK and enjoyed catching up with friends, family and everybody in between.
I was actually pleasantly surprised with how I handled the winter in England from a wheelchair perspective and we both loved being back in the northern hemisphere for the silly season. Some of the Christmas jumpers, Bridget Jones’ diary style were RIDICULOUS!!!
With almost 3 months of solid training under my belt and a two-month alcohol ban, I was quietly confident that I could beat last year’s ocean swim time. The morning of the swim however saw grey skies and massive seas pounding the south coast. Only a last-minute course change to the tranquillity of Broulee Bay ensured the show could go on.
Although she wasn’t the bikini clad beauty of last year, donning a wetsuit Sarah again proved to be the perfect lure and a cheeky 14 minutes was knocked off my previous best. Bring on next year.
As Empower Golf moves from strength to strength, one of the most satisfying initiatives is our ever-growing schedule of golf development clinics where disabled people of all ages and abilities are presented with the opportunity to try golf again for the very first time. Trying to articulate just how life changing sport can be for less able individuals is almost impossible.
Picture someone not only taking away your ability to walk again but also your favourite pastime. In the most extreme and moving cases, individuals will not only be swinging a golf club for the first time but standing tall and proud again after years sitting at hip height. It is a true pleasure to be part of their life changing moment.
Finally, recently Sarah and I were blessed with the opportunity to travel to Uluru which was a magical experience for both of us, especially when we were lent a convertible for the afternoon, totally off-the-cuff, by one of the hotel porters where we were staying. Definitely the only way to see the Red Centre.