16 Oct 2023 | All Abilities |
Nick’s wish to share the gift of golf
by Tony Webeck
There are times when you are reminded of what’s truly important.
And sometimes it comes from a person you might not expect.
Nick Carroll has been a regular fixture at WA All Abilities events since 2019 but is rarely one contending to win.
At the WA All Abilities Open Championship ay Joondalup, an opening round of 82 meant that Nick was drawn to play in the final group with eventual champion Lachlan Wood and two-time winner Cameron Pollard.
Don’t be mistaken, Nick Carroll takes his golf very seriously.
As someone with an intellectual disability, Nick won the 2017 Queensland round of Special Olympics qualifying for the National Championship the following year.
He carries the weight of a poor round heavily, but he cut-through to the essence of All Abilities golf as he prepared to make the trip from Dunsborough Lakes south of Perth to Kalgoorlie for the WA PGA All Abilities Championship.
While we marvel at the skills of those at the top of the leaderboard, Nick wanted to make sure that those whose lives have been changed through golf got their due recognition.
“I played with Josh Jones on Saturday who only has one arm and I played with Chris Wood at the Australian Amputee Championship as a guest visitor and that was awesome fun,” Nick says.
“Anyone with an intellectual or physical disability, anyone can enjoy the game as we all do.
“It’s helped me to build friendships and camaraderie a lot more. Mates with pro golfers like Brett Rumford and Benny Ferguson walking past and saying g’day.
“Anyone with a disability, get out there and enjoy the experience.”
Nick only shifted towards golf as a teenager when his intellectual disability meant that he struggled to keep up with kids his age in other sports such as cricket.
A family friend, Jim Holroyd, first took Nick to the golf course to teach him the basics and he received expert guidance from the late Lyndsay Stephen.
Soon after joining Dunsborough Lakes on a 36-handicap, Nick was offered a job on the grounds crew.
Combining his passion for golf with full-time employment has given him perhaps the most valuable gift anyone can hope for.
“Golf has helped to give Nick an identity, something to attach to and a focus,” says his sister, Domini, a special needs teacher in Perth.
“Because he is employed at the golf course, he is getting meaningful employment in an area that he loves.
“It’s also given him a community within our community to be involved in and a focus for his energy.
“For us as a family, for better or for worse, it gives him something to talk a lot about and gives him something to talk about with our other two brothers.
“It’s given Nick a real sense of identity when sometimes for people with disabilities, that’s really hard.
“The day that he found golf was life-changing for him and why he has such a passion for it.”
It’s a passion he is desperate to share with as many people as possible.
“Don’t be nervous. It’s intimidating at first, but it’s changed my life big time,” Nick adds.
“It’s made me a better person in a way. It stops me being on social media a lot because I had an addictive habit a few months ago, I was on social media too much.
“I want these events to grow and grow and grow. We’ve got eight here this week but I want to increase the number to 12 or even more.
“The more people with a disability we can get playing golf, the better.”
For information on how to get involved in All Abilities golf, click here.
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