23 Feb 2023 | Amateur golf |
Gole becomes world No. 1
by Dane Heverin
Nadene Gole is the top ranked senior amateur golfer in the world after the World Amateur Golf Rankings were updated overnight.
Gole’s rise to the world No. 1 ranking has been a rapid one as she only began competing at senior level last September and she is now the best ranked amateur golf above the age of 50 – male or female.
“It’s surreal,” she said.
“My attitude is that I just go out and play golf, but going into this year I had a little a bit of an idea that this may come about. I always give it 100% so it is an added bonus that I’ve come out on top.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to achieve because there are a lot of successful golfers from around the world that are now playing seniors’ golf.”
The 54-year-old’s victory at the New Zealand Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Whakatane Golf Club last week took her to the summit after four victories in seven starts in WAGR events but it was pure coincidence that she even played in the first place.
Gole and her husband Sam booked in three years ago to take a golf trip across the Tasman and luckily the stars aligned.
“When I was a professional, I used to take trips away and Sam and I always said once we got into our 50s that it was something we wanted to do,” Gole said.
“This is just a fluke because we booked this three years ago and it just coincided that last week was the New Zealand Championships. Instead of having a holiday, I played a lot of golf.”
Gole played in Europe during her professional days but returned home in 1997 and gave away the game until she re-joined Victoria Golf Club in 2014 and eventually regained amateur status.
“It was something I wanted to get back into, but I was still a professional,” she recalled.
“You keep status, but you don’t use it. I just really wanted to be a club golfer to play with my husband and my friends.
“It got to about 2016 and I said to Sam, ‘I think I’m going to give it away. It’s better to be in a club environment and just be a member’.”
Soon enough she was playing pennant for Victoria and an everyday conversation set her on the path to senior golf success.
“Last year I was playing golf at Victoria and Heather Gellatly who is pennant manager at Huntingdale asked me ‘Nads, why aren’t you playing seniors golf?’. I said ‘oh, I’m not old enough’ and she said, ‘they’ve changed it in Australia’,” Gole said.
“I showed it to Sam, and I didn’t know what it would be like. To be honest I hadn’t played much golf. I’d played Tuesday afternoons and pennant for Victoria. I’m fit but three rounds plus a practice round is very different.”
Despite her concerns about being ready to compete again, Gole began her senior amateur career with wins at the South Australian Senior Women’s Amateur Championship and the Victorian Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in a matter of weeks.
In the following months, she was also runner-up at the Australian Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, and after being asked to take part by one of Australia’s most decorated senior golfers, Sue Wooster, she was a member of the victorious Australian team at the Asia-Pacific Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.
Donning the green and gold in international competition was also a feat Gole achieved at junior level, and she has crossed paths with many old friends from her amateur days at senior events.
Gole’s ranking now sits at 204th in the world and remarkably she is the highest ranked woman amateur golfer above the age of 25.
Her winning ways have also extended to non-WAGR Golf Australia Order of Merit events where she triumphed on three other occasions.
Gole is not sure what is next for her as she continues to balance competing with working at their family-run artisan chocolate shop, but she has her eyes set on further honours.
“Now having achieved this, I would still like to hold this position and gain a few more titles,” she said.
“It’s a great thing for Australia for someone to golf that mantle. I’m not sure if it’s ever happened before but I’m happy to hold it.”
Regardless of what happens from here on however, Gole is simply thrilled that she rediscovered golf.
“I know that a lot of people I played golf with don’t play golf now,” she said.
“I play with 17-year-olds, 21-year-olds. We meet so many fantastic people because golf doesn’t discriminate with age. I’m very grateful that I’ve come back to golf.”
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