09 Oct 2023 | All Abilities |
Golf: A path to recovery
by Patrick Taylor
Golf and the golfing community has helped Kirsty Wilkinson to meet new people, make new friends, and improve her game at the same time. It has also helped pull Kirsty out of some dark times.
While she was in a long recovery period following two car accidents, Kirsty was diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in 2017. Later, she was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), and most recently, and out of left field, with a dilatated aorta.
Living with these disabilities means that fatigue and chronic pain is something that Kirsty must deal with on a daily basis, which has also led to other struggles.
"Anxiety and depression are really part and parcel with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome… for a long time I was fairly isolated," she explained.
As a keen sportsperson in her youth, Kirsty never lost her competitive spirit. She tried a few clinics and different avenues to get into golf, but it was finding her current coach Craig Spence that really drew her in.
"I've been doing lessons with Craig for a couple of years now, and I've just found I respond well to his way of teaching," Kirsty said.
Spence, as a specially trained all-abilities coach, has worked with Kirsty to develop a golf swing that works for her. One that doesn't put strain on parts of her body particularly affected by her disability.
Having experienced the positive effect golf can have, Kirsty is passionate about increasing the number of women with a disability playing the sport. This is something Kirsty is working closely with Golf Australia on.
Increasing awareness but also the visibility of people with a disability playing golf is something she sees as an important driver for that goal.
Reflecting on her time in rehab, Kirsty talks of how inspiring it would have been to have visits from athletes with a disability, to see what is possible.
"If we can try to increase the number of women with a disability playing golf, that will definitely help," she said.
"My aim this year was to play as many tournaments as I could to try and encourage more women with a disability to get involved in golf."
Kirsty has just returned from Japan and Norway, where she played in all-abilities tournaments.
If playing in her first international tournaments wasn't challenge enough, she played with a broken wrist. Another example of her resolve and that nothing will stop her competitive spirit.
The fitness and competition is something Kirsty relishes, but golf has also returned a strong social connection back to her life.
While playing overseas, Kirsty made a number of new friends, and the friendships she has made at tournaments in Australia have been invaluable for both her personal growth and as a golfer.
Kirsty is already an inspiration to so many, and her advice for those maybe thinking about golf is simple.
"Just give it a go, what have you got to lose!"
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