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Golfers First Profiles

Every golfer has a story of the putt they holed, the chance they missed, and of the drive that was long and straight. Not every golfer, however, has a backstory that grabs one’s attention, that shows the human spirit and can fuel the can-do attitude that is inside every one of us.

The Golfers First Profiles came from a deep belief that everyone has a story, that is not only worth telling, but also worth sharing. Perhaps you or someone that you know is in need of a boost of inspiration or a signpost to what can be achieved.

34 – Kevin Harmison

“I just gave myself a mental slap and said to myself ‘figure it out, sort yourself out’ and it was the best thing I have ever done,” says Ashington born Kevin Harmison. Kevin like many others had to deal with the psychological impact of losing his leg in an accident along with the aftermath in the months and years that followed. 

EDGA’s Tony Bennett introduces his conversation with Kevin Harmison, who comes from the same town as football legend Sir Bobby Charlton. 

Ashington in the North-East of England is famous for being the centre of the coal mining industry, and the birthplace of three of Englands most famous footballers, Jackie Milburn and the Charlton brothers, Jackie and Bobby. One of three boys in the Harmison family, it was natural for the boys to play the ‘beautiful game’ of football, and expected that when they became men that they would go down the pits. That is what his Dad Walter had done along with his brothers Jim and Melvyn. 

Walter had been a goalkeeper who had trials at Newcastle and a generation later Jim would have trials at Everton before playing professionally for lower league side Yeovil Town. Kevin also enjoyed his football and was a mad passionate Newcastle United fan, taking the weekly pilgrimage to St James Park when he was not playing local league soccer. “I didn’t want to go down the pits…it was just something that everybody did, the wage was probably quite [good] at the time, but I was one of those who was more bothered about health, and so I did a college course,” says Kevin, “I started work on a government scheme when I was sixteen years of age and was on something like £16.50 per week.” 

Golf came into Kevin’s life when he was just ten years of age when brother Jim got some clubs, and they would go off and have a few swings, “It was more like a relaxing sport, because when I played football it was intense. I think I was about 18 when I first joined a golf course. It was football in the winter and when I got more time off in the summer it was golf. By the time I was about 25 [years old], my handicap was four.” Even though he thought it was a relaxing sport, he would get frustrated like every other golfer. Just when he thought that he had mastered the game it would kick him in the backside and he would have a ‘nightmare’ few weeks. Kevin says “It’s such a great game, the difference between football and golf is the fact that football is a team sport and so you can play badly and get away with it, whereas in golf it’s such an individual sport. I think that 90% of it is psychological and I think that this is where I got better.” That strength of mind would come in handy later on. 

Life was moving along a well worn and predictable path for the 25-year-old Kevin. Married to Diane, a young family with daughters Meagan and Jessika, and a new job where he was doing well in his managerial role at the Hydraulic Cylinder Plant. “My golf got better… because being the manager I got a lot of perks in the job. I met…the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce…and so I would get invited to [play] and so met some fantastic people. It was then that golf started to take over from football.” Things were good, and then a series of events changed the course of Kevin’s life. 

“I don’t know if it was fate really,” says Kevin, “There was a place called Alcan Primary Metal, which was right next to the golf course. They used to make aluminium, and it was the main place in the North-East if you didn’t want to work down the pit.” the job paid well and a lot of Kevin’s friends already worked there.  “They were telling me that they could get me a job, I would just have to pass a test. But I didn’t really want to work there for the simple reason that it was a dangerous place.” Life went on until the factory at which Kevin worked burnt down, “We lost our jobs, and they had to rebuild the factory. We got paid our wages for about a year, but then I had to look for another job.” That job search ended when Kevin secured a job at Alcan. With a young family, the wage was a necessity even though he didn’t really want to work there. 

Kevin started in training and had only been there for three or four months when a simple process went dramatically wrong, “I was doing this procedure one night, I was with my trainer when my foot slipped and went into one of the molten metal pots at a thousand degrees and my leg got badly burnt.” At one hundred degrees liquid will scald ones skin, now imagine ten times that heat and it is easy to realise that Kevin was in a bad way. “I had seven or eight operations,” says Kevin who eventually had his leg amputated, “It was fate really as it was one of those places that I didn’t really want to work.”

Kevin was admitted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary burns unit in Newcastle for eight weeks during which time they tried to save his leg five or six times, but the extent of the burns meant that treatment was not easy. “They tried to take [my leg] off further down…but they had to take it off higher because it was still burning inside. In the last operation, they gave me a chance to take a muscle out of my back and to put it into my leg, which wasn’t really an option. On the 52nd day, I decided to take it off, and that was it, a change of life really. Originally when I was going to have my leg taken off my world fell apart for a couple of days, because I thought what am I going to do? 

In the weeks or months when an accident victim is hospitalised, there is a flurry of activity with Doctors, Therapists and Nurses taking care of any, and all, medical needs. Visiting family, relatives and friends ensure that their loved one never feels forgotten, providing positive reinforcement that they will be fine and that life will move on. These are difficult days for all concerned, but all too often it is once the patient returns home that the real magnitude of what has happened hits. Kevin explains, “People forget about you, once you are out of the hospital. They come and visit you in the hospital and tell you that you’ve got to be strong and that you’re going to be sorted out…but once you get out of hospital I think that people consciously think that he is going to be alright now because he is out of hospital.” 

Kevin recalls that in the first few months he had focused on his wife and daughters and recognises that it was at around six months that things got really tough, “That was the worst time in my life…because of the severity of the burns to my leg I couldn’t wear a limb for two years. So that next eighteen months was the hardest part because I was at home in a wheelchair, my wife was at work, my kids were at school, and probably for six or seven hours per day, I was in the house on my own. I had suicidal thoughts in my head, I just didn’t want to be here. I started to think I am not going to be any good to anybody, I don’t want my wife to be looking after me and things like that. So that next 18 months was really bad.” 

There are no truer words written than, ‘in life, nothing stays the same.’ For Kevin, there was some hope as he got closer to getting a prosthesis, “As soon as I got a limb that I could put on and start walking, I could see a little bit of light and thought I’ve got a chance here. To be honest, I still wasn’t thinking about disabled golf then, I was just trying to get on my feet…but once I got my limb, everything changed.” Immediately he started to think about going out of the house, taking up sport again. There were a few options disabled football with walking sticks and luckily he saw a poster that read “disabled golf.” This was another life-changing moment as Kevin once again took up the game that he had played before his accident. 

“I had my accident in 2004 and didn’t play my first tournament for four and half years,” but that didn’t matter because Kevin was getting fresh air, exercise and the social interaction that he craved. “I played my first event in Valencia in Spain in 2008 with a handicap of eight. I came third in the gross tournament, and it was fantastic because you meet people. What it taught me is that I thought my world had ended when I lost my leg, then I put my limb on and went to the tournament and thought what’s the matter with me there is nothing wrong with me. I was looking around and saw people who play golf, and I thought wow. So I thought ‘give yourself a shake and just get on with it’, that was the best part, meeting people like that. I met some fantastic people, the ability that some people have got is just scary.”        

Over the last ten years, Kevin has become one of the names that people look to be on the podium at every tournament in which he plays. With a handicap of one Kevin is firmly up there with some of the best that Europe has to offer, but he realises how good he has to be, “I’ve learned how good some people are, I learned how good you need to be to get to the top. I’ve learned that England has some fantastic golfers and with a little bit more help we can be up there with the best teams in Europe.” One experience has helped focus Kevin’s mind, “In 2013 I played with Juan Postigo…his Dad was with him, and he was only 16 at the time, and he was a lovely lad. At the end of the game, his Dad came up to me a said, you see that lad there [Juan] in five years he will be the best in the world.” Time will tell whether or not Juan makes it to the top of the Ranking, but with several weeks in second place and two EGA European Championships medals to his name, it seems there is a good chance. 

As we sat together at the Portugal Masters where Kevin together with five of his fellow golfers with a disability had conducted a demonstration and competed with the professionals. He reflected that he would like to see a little more funding of English players so that they compete in six or seven tournaments per year to have the chance to climb the newly announced World Rankings. “I think that disabled golf is now taking off, and think that what we have done this weekend is show professional golfers how good we can be.”  

When asked about what advice he would offer to someone who has a similar disability to himself he says, “Be strong. You’ve got to be strong that’s what it’s all about, because you will always have negative thoughts in your head, and you can’t afford to, because as soon as you get negative thoughts, you are away down that slippery slope. It’s all about being positive, because [an accident] changes your life, but it can actually make your life better. It’s made my life better, I’ve actually got a better life now than what I had before my accident. I got compensation and a pension, things like that, so my lifestyle now is geared toward doing things differently, but what happened to me is that it made me mentally stronger.  I would encourage people to come and watch us play golf because it will actually make them want to do the same thing.” 

Hear! Hear!  

 

How to Contact Kevin Harmison – Contact EDGA

 

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33 – Rasmus Lia

“It is estimated that around 50% of the population in the developed world have been on an aeroplane. The sense of wonder or fear that most people experience that very first time is all-consuming as they sit buckled into a machine that defies gravity and powers its way into the skies.”  

EDGA’s Tony Bennett introduces his conversation with the Swedish Ice-man, Rasmus Lia who thrilled the crowds at the Portugal Masters.

Imagine now what it would be like to fly through the air unaided. No seat or machine under you, just clean air enveloping your body, like a soft cushion. The chilly air numbs your face as you look down, and the earth passes by in double time. Then the point of realisation hits, as your velocity reduces the altitude drops in preparation for landing.

Rasmus Lia had this sensation many times as he followed his passion for cross-country skiing. The sport is widely practised in Scandinavia and is seen as a form of transportation in the more remote areas of northern Sweden, Norway and Finland. Rasmus had skis on almost as soon as he could walk. With his father Trond being on ski patrol, it was natural for young Rasmus to take to the snow. He soon developed a passion for skiing and by the time he had his first double-digit birthday he was already competing. Trond had taken him to the mountains and fuelled the youngster’s competitive juices. Rasmus would willingly put in hours of practice, and had already reached a top ten position for his age at the national level.

When things go well we tend to take them for granted. By now Rasmus was adept at controlling his body through the turns, establishing balance as he cornered, propelling himself forward coordinating ski and poles, legs and arms to help cover the terrain. 

With many hours of training behind him, twelve-year-old Rasmus could be forgiven for thinking that this day would like all others. But it was different as he explains, “We were just out on the downslopes with my school. It was quite early in the morning, and I was doing some jumps. I got comfortable, and so I tried some bigger jumps. It was a bit windy that day, and I misjudged the whole jump. I was ten to fifteen metres too long and so landed on the ice down below.” 

The jump from five meters high was measured later at 27 metres. Rasmus instinctively knew that he had too much speed and in the time it took to travel those 27 metres he tried to slow his momentum by titling his body backwards, “I was thinking about how hard the landing was going to be, and I was trying to get back on my feet, but couldn’t. I landed on my hip and my back. 

The ski patrol came very quickly to assist the young skier. In that patrol was Trond. Imagine the feeling that he must have had when seeing his son lying on the cold hard ice. Rasmus says that his father wasn’t as calm and steady as usual, “He was a bit scared I think.” Perhaps Trond knew that the injuries Rasmus had sustained were significant. These were confirmed after he had been taken to the hospital and underwent a series of x-rays and tests. The injuries were indeed considerable. His hip had dislocated and the head of his femur penetrated the hip socket. A collapsed lung added to the problem, to which Rasmus says, “That was the difficult part, to get started breathing again, and so I didn’t really feel the pain in my leg at first.”

The body is amazing in its ability to repair, and this is especially true in the case of young people who are already well conditioned. Within a few days his hip had re-located back into the right place again, and so at first, they didn’t want him to have surgery. Rasmus stayed in the hospital for a week or so before continuing his recovery at home, “I got the call just one or two days after I had been sent back home. Another Doctor had seen the x-ray, and he saw clearly that I needed surgery,” says Rasmus who found out that the hip capsule which had been crushed needed to be repaired along with the three fractures which he had in his back and two in his pelvis.

The accident was taking its toll on Rasmus, “The crash was at the beginning of March, and the first surgery was in the middle of the month. So I used crutches and then a wheelchair at the beginning, but I got back to school in a month or so, but I wasn’t allowed to walk for about eight weeks.” The physical toll is obvious, but for many who experience a life-changing accident, it is the mental and emotional toll that pervades. “Every two or three weeks after surgery it was hard. I had no motivation and just had thoughts going around in my head. It felt like I had to start over after each surgery. So that was very tough, and it led to a lot of things, like gaining a lot of weight because I didn’t train as I did before,” says Rasmus.

When you meet Rasmus today, you see a bright fresh-faced and fit looking young man, without an ounce of extra weight, and so it is clear that something changed. The change came when he realised that it was up to him how the future would look, “At some point, I realised that I had to do something, I needed to try, try to get better, try to train hard and to see how far I could go. I think it was at that time that I realised that Cross-Country Skiing was over for me because I couldn’t do the movements any more,” says Rasmus. “I then thought I would find a new sport because I was a sportsman. So then I tried Golf, which was quite natural for me because my Dad works at the golf course.” 

Pretty much everything about golf was different than skiing. Yes it was outside, and Rasmus could have enjoy it with his friends, but the adrenaline rush for most people who start playing the game is hard to find, and yet the game gradually took hold of Rasmus. He thought golf was fun, which was a good start and slowly he became motivated by the game and was driven to get better. Rasmus could appreciate the subtlety of the sport and recognised that he had some talent to play the game, “The big difference between cross-country skiing and golf is that in golf you use your upper body more. In the beginning, I was just trying to get my own swing…I used my arms and shoulders a lot more than a normal golfer would do. My swing started to improve when I got to the high school in Sweden, it was then I got a real coach and of course the professional at my home course, helped a lot.”  

A friend of Rasmus started to compete on the Swedish Handi-Golf Tour, and he encouraged him to play in a competition, “I really liked it, and so the next year I thought that I would give it a try. It worked out pretty well, and I enjoyed it very much,” says Rasmus who is now part of the Swedish Handi-Golf team. Ever the competitor Rasmus intends to make the most of his second sport, “Of course I would like to get as far as I can, maybe to be one of the best players in Europe…lets just see how far golf takes me.” 

So Rasmus is once again flying high, he is in the second year of school and is studying economics, but his goal is to do something with golf as a career. What that ‘something’ will be is hard to know at this early stage, but with an athletes mentality and passion for golf he has at least two of the ingredients to which he adds a healthy dose of the secret ingredient when he says, “Golf means everything to me…life is just better when you play golf.”   

 

How to Contact Rasmus Lia – Contact EDGA

 

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32 – Cameron Pollard

“It is the stones in the path of the water that gives the stream it’s music,” said a sceptical publisher to his scribe. Her thoughts surfaced when reading the story of a successful athlete with less than a quarter of a century of living tucked under his belt.

EDGA’s Tony Bennett introduces his conversation with nineteen years old, Aussie Cameron Pollard who has had a whirlwind couple of weeks.

If it is true that obstacles and difficulties are merely a gateway to developing an uncommon depth of character, then my guest today has certainly had his fair share. Nineteen-years-old Australian Cameron Pollard can list quite a few obstacles. Cameron resides on the Autistic Spectrum, has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which to the layman means that Cameron’s joints have a pre-disposition to dislocate from time to time, a rare genetic bowel condition called Hirschsprung’s Disease, which has resulted in him having his bowel removed, and if that is not enough he also is diagnosed with Panic Disorder.

Cameron says the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, “Affects me a little bit and it can be tough, but I have had both my knees operated on, and so that has helped to keep me more stable throughout my swing.” Daily challenges are ever present to manage his health and well-being, but his mother Kate says, “He is always smiling through the face of adversity.”

It is likely that more of Cameron Pollard’s story lies ahead of him, but to understand how this amiable Aussie won hearts and minds of the public during the 2018 Australian All Abilities Championship at The Lakes Golf Club, we first have to learn of his journey to the opening round.

So often it is a family member or friend that opens the door for new players to come into the game, and for Cameron, it was his Nan Jennifer who was the first to put a club, albeit a plastic one, into his hands. Dad Scott was next to fuel the interest of a young Cameron by regularly taking him to Sawtell Golf Club, where today he has become a valued member. Dad had also been a good player with a handicap of two, and golf is now indeed a family game as Kate has recently started to play. Kate is rightly proud of her son, and it is easy to see that she supports Cameron in lots of ways beginning with taking him to the club and to the events that he now plays in.

Interest can quickly turn to passion, and so it has been with Cameron who has become one of Australia’s best all abilities players. He now works in the professional’s shop at his home course and practices as much as he can, to hone the various parts of his game under the watchful eye of PGA of Australia Professional Brendan Barnes. Playing competitively is a central focus for Cameron, and by regularly competing, as much as three times per week, he is making great strides.

Cameron had his first taste of wearing the Australian jersey when he competed in the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters in 2016, but since then the opportunities have started to flow for this New South Wales resident. Living in the suburb of Boambee East, approximately ten kilometres South of Coffs Harbour, Cameron qualifies to represent his state, providing that he can demonstrate that he is one of the top players. Meet the grade he certainly does, and earlier in 2018 he took part and became the 2018 Special Olympics National Games Champion.

Cameron is interested in making a career out of the game and has recently completed accredited training to become a community instructor for a programme called ‘Myschools’, to which he has added training for the ‘Ladies Swing Fit’ course. With this new knowledge and skill Cameron can now assist the professional to deliver both types of classes at the local club.

Fast forward to November 2018, and the third week of the month was shaping up to be much like any other week, except for the fact that he and Scott were due to be defending their foursomes club championship against a hungry group of competitors. Then came the call to join up with eleven other all abilities athletes who had been invited to compete in the AAAC. One of the international players had a delay on his visa and so would arrive late. The organisation decided to bring in an Aussie player as a last minute replacement to complete the dream dozen. Cameron was already selected to play the following week for the Australian Team in Melbourne at the Handa Golf Cup, but this call-up meant a speedy change of plans.

Cameron arrived two days after the other competitors and did not even have time to play the Lakes Course, but that didn’t hold him back as he wowed the vast galleries, there to be part of this groundbreaking event, which took place inside of the 108th Emirates Australian Open.

What the future may hold for Cameron is anyone’s guess, but the experience that he has had over the last few days will give him a great belief that he can mix it with some of the best players.

During November 2018 some of ‘the stones in the water’ have been polished, and the stream is gently singing a joyful song for Cameron Pollard.

How to Contact Cameron Pollard –

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Read more about Cameron Pollard here

 

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31 – Stephen Prior

Aussie, Stephen Prior comes across as being a carefree, sports-mad and practical young fellow in his youth. Life was good, school going well, and Stephen played sport at every opportunity in a country famous for its outdoor lifestyle.    

EDGA’s Tony Bennett introduces his conversation with  Stephen Prior, who reveals a cool head under pressure.  

 

Stephen and his family would often make the trip to Forster, some 350 kilometres north of Sydney, and it was here when with a group of friends enjoying some fishing and water sports that the trajectory of his life shifted. The tow rope off the rear of a speeding boat got caught around his wrist, while waterskiing. Seconds later as he fell from the skis, the line, now looped around his wrist, pulled tight and ripped off Stephen’s right hand, which was never to be found as it sunk to the bottom of the murky water.  

At that moment the Aussie rules football and tennis that he had so enjoyed in his early teenage years effectively came to a halt. Traumatic events happen. One’s brain insists that the incident has not occurred and yet in the seconds that it takes for the head to clear, practicalities have to be taken care of while time is of the essence. Stephen had a sports teacher, Mr Armstrong at school, who had been a Bondi Beach, lifesaver. He recalled a story of a shark attack and a fellow who had his leg bitten off. The teacher explained that the first thing he had done was to get a length of rope and create a tourniquet around the victim’s leg to stop the blood flow. “When I lost my hand that was the first thing I thought of, I pulled the cord out of my wetsuit, tied it around the arm and pulled it tight” says Stephen, “I didn’t go into any panic and it didn’t really hurt which is the funny thing…it was shock that I went into more than anything.”

The final year of schooling is never easy, especially with exams to prepare for and a place at college or university up for grabs, but it all got that much harder as Stephen tried to learn to write with his non-dominant hand. Imagine the turmoil that this seventeen-year-old amputee endured during those next few months. Stephen had to deal with his expectations and increasing frustration in those first few months. Before the accident he had anticipated a good set of grades in the final year examinations, going to college and getting a good job, but increasingly he got frustrated as he slipped behind in his school work. Back in the day, Stephen did not get much help from the Teachers Board in Australia, but thankfully he says this is now changing, and more support and guidance are now available for others in a similar position. 

Not that he was complaining. It seems that Stephen is not one to grumble. He just got on with living, a mantra which he passes on to others today when he says “Just get on with life, don’t sit there and dwell on what’s happened. There are numerous things that you can still do that you will still enjoy, no use being sad about it, no use being upset, it’s happened, move on and really start living your life again.” 

After the amputation, Stephen got bored in the hospital, and so discharged himself and within four days was swinging a golf club, “I thought what can I do next, I was one of those characters who just got on with things.” Stephen went down to the local golf club and remembers, “I think I shot around 115 or something like that…it was the first time I had swung a club and so was pretty impressed…. I mucked around for a while playing with one hand and eventually went to find a suitable [prosthetic] golf arm.”

Golf became his new drive in life, not that golf had ever left him, but the change in his circumstances elevated golf from being a holiday pastime to an all-consuming passion, one which is even provided for in his marriage, “One of my wedding vows was that I get to play golf every Saturday morning,” says Stephen with a glint in his eye. It was his Dad, Jack, that had first put a club in Stephen’s hands, “He wasn’t a big golfer really, and worked six days a week, so on Sundays we got out once in a while to play. Around my age group, there was no one really playing golf at the time. So in the holidays when my friends would go away, Mum and Dad would drop me down at the course and I would just play. I did 72 holes in a day a couple of times and so just enjoyed it.” 

Now a member of Long Reef Golf Club in Sydney, Stephen is a valued member of the club’s first team, but it was not always the case. “I suppose around ten years ago I had quite a good job where I had freedom in the afternoons, I worked early in the mornings and played golf in the afternoon, and so was playing three or four days per week…I managed to get my handicap down to about the two mark after sitting at about eight and from there I suppose I have just progressed a little bit further,” says Stephen.  When he first joined the club he kept himself to himself, “I was reasonably shy back then, I had a couple of older friends there and played with them most of the time.” Eventually, he began playing and socialising at the club with some others, and that group has gradually expanded resulting in some good times, when these players get together, go on golf trips and enjoy each others company.” 

Stephen loves the opportunity to compete with non-disabled golfers, “I suppose we can show off a bit…the best thing about golf is that it’s the type of sport where you compete with everyone because of the handicap system. That was one thing that really lured me to golf. I find that no matter how good or how bad you are, or how much skill you have, or how much luck you have, you can always compete on your day against anyone.”  

Compete he does, and most opposition players would rather that they had not drawn Stephen in a head to head match, “It’s quite interesting when I come against somebody in a team match, and you can see them thinking, ‘how the hell does this guy play of scratch or plus one handicap? Then I get out and hit the ball, and it can actually freak some people out, which gives me a little mental edge on them.” 

Stephen did not embrace golf for the disabled readily, in fact, had it not been for a gentleman called Ivan at the local driving range Terrey Hills, who knew Aussie amputee golf legend, Geoff Nicholas, Stephen might never have played. “Because Ivan was a member at The Lakes. He knew that this tournament was on. I didn’t know anything about it, and at the time I didn’t know any other amputees. I was a bit of a loner and led myself down an able-bodied life at that stage.” Ivan kept pushing Stephen to play the event, “I thought, ‘disabled people,’ I don’t want to hang around with them. But at the time I was quite young and quite rude I suppose, so I found myself not really interested, but Ivan kept saying ‘you won’t get another chance to play at The Lakes’ and so, in the end, I thought bugger it I’ll go.” 

Meeting the amputees for the first time was daunting for Stephen, but from then on his life took another change of direction. Stephen recalls, “We sort of formed a group and set up Amputee Golf Australia where I was one of the founding members.” He was hooked, and along with Geoff and others, they started to see a bigger picture, “We heard that the US was running quite a big tournament in 2004. The Canadian Amputee Tournament was before, and so we set a goal to get together every 6-8 weeks and to play a round of golf and to chat golf,” not knowing where it would lead them. There were eight or so players in the group, and an idea slowly started to simmer as they played and talked. “The BALASA tournament in England was on at around the same time, and so we ended up playing the British, Canadian and US tournament all in the space of three weeks,” says Stephen who also reveals, “We had plans in the background to set up a tournament of our own back in Australia where international players would come along.”  

The rest is history as the famous saying goes. Stephen became the President of Amputee Golf Australia and then subsequently the President of Amputee Golf New South Wales, which have followed a similar path. Stephen uses his experiences to help others, understanding all too well that it is quite common for a new amputee to be a little shy, “When I lost my hand…you didn’t go to physiotherapists. I went to a rehab centre once, but I didn’t really get anything out of it.” 

Stephen feels he didn’t get the opportunity to sit with people to help him on his way, and it was a little like ‘sew them up and then let them get on with it’ for hand amputees.” Stephen didn’t get that initial contact with other amputees or even with someone who knew one, “Here in Amputee Golf Australia if we hear about someone who is an amputee we try to get someone out to see them, say ‘G’day mate’ and let them know it’s not the end of the world.” 

The Australian Government are open to having accessible programmes and facilities available, “When I lost my hand there wasn’t much help, Government funding was quite low if any…but now we hear ads on the radio for placements in work for disabled people…it has changed full circuit; it’s more out in the open, you don’t seem to see any prejudice against people with disabilities these days…I certainly don’t get people staring at me as they did in the early days.  

Stephen will have to get used to being watched, but now it’s for his golfing ability as he takes on eleven other golfers with a disability over two weeks in Australia. First, on the agenda is the AAAC Championship being played at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, inside of the Emirates Australian Open and then again the following week on the PGA Tour World Cup of Golf in Melbourne. Even if his mouth turns to cotton, and his throat gets dry, you can be sure that his head will be clear to deal with whatever is in front of him.

How to Contact Stephen Prior –

Please contact EDGA GOLF at mail@edgagolf.com 

 

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