14 Nov 2023 | Amateur golf |
Feature: Nadene Gole the history-maker
by Martin Blake
Nadene Gole created a substantial piece of amateur golf history in Perth recently, but the fact did not even occur to her at the time.
When Gole, the world’s No. 1 Senior amateur player, secured the WA Senior Amateur at Royal Perth she had won the full set of six available state senior championships for women in the same calendar year, as well as the Australian Senior Amateur.
It was at the presentation at Royal Perth that Gary Thomas, Golf WA’s longtime general manager, alerted Gole to the feat. “He said ‘you know you’ve won the whole six plus the national’?” said Gole this week. “I went back to (husband) Sam and told him, and he said: ‘Yeah, I know’!”
A check of the Golf Australia records shows that it has never been done before, not only at Senior amateur level but at any level of amateur golf in this country.
“I had no idea, to be honest,” said Gole. “I’m not conscious of these things when I’m playing golf. I just play.”
Nadene Gole’s story should be inspirational to the average golfer.
She is also the epitome of the saying ‘Golf is a game for life’.
Her life in golf has turned full circle, from outstanding junior golfer in Gippsland in Victoria to a decade as a touring professional in Europe and Japan and Australia, to almost 20 years out of playing the game while she raised her two children and now, to Senior golf where she is dominating like no one has before or since.
Gole took up the game at 12 after her golf-playing parents hosted two PGA Professionals, the great Peter Senior and Stephen Bann, at home during a Traralgon pro-am. She caddied for Senior and after hitting a few balls with the all-time great touring pro one night in the vacant land near her family home, she started lessons at the local club and was quickly hooked.
“It was 50 cents for an hour, and we’d get five holes in,” she recalled. “I was 12 or 13 which is very late when you think people take up the sport at two now, barely walking.
“But I loved it because I could go and do it by myself without relying on someone else to hit a tennis ball or netball where you needed a team to join. I joined the golf club, but I never had a full set until I got to single figures. I had odds and sods of clubs. I loved the discipline of getting involved and going away doing things.”
She turned professional and went on the road for 10 years, the highlight being her win in the 1996 Danish Open on the Ladies European Tour.
Around this time she married Sam Gole, also a golf-lover and a single figure marker. They had two children, Ben (now 25) and Sophie and focused on family life.
Nadene Gole stopped playing golf altogether, although she did not leave the game entirely, doing some coaching at various clubs in Melbourne.
“We decided to concentrate on our children. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Almost 20 years on she returned to playing golf in 2019 after she relinquished her professional status and became an amateur again. She began playing pennant for her club, Victoria, and of course was eligible for Senior ranks.
And she has come back to competitive golf with a different attitude. It is the mindset of a worldly 55-year-old.
“Golf is just something I’ve come back to after a 20-year hiatus, and I have a real appreciation and a gratitude that I can do it at my age,” she said.
“To come back and play and be competitive is good, but it’s not always about the winning. I’m just enjoying it.
“It’s a greater appreciation. It’s like smelling the roses.”
Gole gets lots of messages of support especially from around her club, Victoria. She feels that her return to golf has inspired some women in her circle and outside to play golf.
“I call it golf 360. Started as a junior, did all these things, went away from the sport. But the thing is, even if you haven’t played golf, you can still take it up in your 50s. Most women and even men have time out due to career, work or family. But you can take it up again.”
Gole intends defending her cluster of titles in 2024, but first she has to recover from surgery to remove a tendon in her right hand that left her with 50 stitches. The injury bothered her throughout the past 18 months, although you would scarcely know it as she racked up honours.
She’ll continue to run the golf travel business she operates with her husband called Discover Golf and wants to go back overseas, having been runner-up in the Amateur Championship in the UK in 2023 as well as going deep into the US Senior Women’s Amateur.
“The thing I get the most out of it is the people I meet,” she said.
NADENE GOLE’S 2023
February Won Tasmanian Senior Amateur Won NZ Senior Amateur March Won NSW Senior Amateur July Runner-up The Senior Amateur (UK) August Won Queensland Senior Amateur September Won SA Senior Amateur Won Victorian Senior Amateur October 5th US Senior Women’s Amateur Won Australian Senior Amateur Won WA Senior Amateur
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