Golf Australia

World champ Sawtell caps off remarkable golf journey

Dave Sawtell
Dave Sawtell
Many reading this would love to hit a golf ball 200m.

So imagine trying it one-handed.

Then imagine it while sitting in a wheelchair.

Welcome to the world of Dave Sawtell – Australia’s newest world champion.

Sawtell, 48 and a paraplegic since birth, is just back at his Gold Coast home after winning the world long-drive championship in the United States.

In pumping out a 199-yard bomb, Sawtell not only won the wheelchair disability category, he took third place in a category dominated by people in special chairs that enable the golfer to be upright.

It capped a remarkable 10-year golf journey for Sawtell, who’d previously been a competitive weightlifter and kayaker before injury and a fear of sharks prompted a change in athletic endeavour.

“I picked up a hickory stick because it was all I could get my hands on at the time and it’s come a long way since then,” he said today.

“There’s been a lot of perseverance and a lot of practice gone into it – and it’s hard to get my head around what I’ve done really because I just love golf.”

Sawtell, who practises at both Chinderah and Emerald Lakes, had mates Dave Budge and Scott Cranfield help on his first overseas trip.

And with competition base Mesquite, Nevada just down the road from Las Vegas, the trio had to steer clear of the bright lights and trappings of Sin City.

“I was told I had to see the `Strip’, so we went there one night but I only went in one casino for five minutes to check it out,” Sawtell said.

“I was that excited to be at the long drive championship, it didn’t bother me a bit.”

Sawtell, who has out-of-competition drives recorded at up to 218m, believes he can hit the ball further yet.

But the limits of his disability pension have prevented him from buying the “Parragolfer” electric chair that will take his driving and game to the next level.

But the Level 1 Community coach is hopeful his success might prompt others to help.

“At the moment, when my mates take me out golfing they tie my chair to the back of a (golf) cart and it’s like I’m water-skiing behind them,” he joked.

“If anyone can help me out, I’d be very grateful.”

Sawtell can be contacted via email at and he’s happy to hear from any golfers with a disability who could use a helping hand.

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