12 Feb 2022 | All Abilities |
Prior romps to Inclusive Championship lead
by Martin Blake
Steve Prior came to 13th Beach for the Victorian Inclusive Championships today, saw the wind whipping, and thought privately he might be struggling to break 80.
But he shot 74, two over par on the Creek course, and as a result he is the outright leader in the championships which began on the Bellarine Peninsula today. He has a break of three shots from Victorian Mike Rolls who opened with a 77 in the 36-hole event being played alongside the Vic Open for the first time.
Defending champion Cameron Pollard shot a 79 and will start tomorrow five shots behind Prior’s lead.
Sydneysider Prior, 45, is no stranger to the top of the leaderboard. He was part of the inclusive championships at both the Presidents Cup in 2019 and the World Cup of Golf in 2018, and is the president of Amputee Golf Australia.
A member at Long Reef in Sydney’s northern beaches, he had four birdies today.
“I got away off the tee really well today,” he said. “I struggled a little bit early I suppose landing on the greens, decided to pull it back a couple of clubs, land on the front of the green and play for the centre of the green and it paid off.”
Prior lost the bottom half of his right arm in a skiing accident at Forster, north of Sydney, when he was 17. “I was a little idiot, went out water skiing and got my hand caught up in the rope,” he said. “Basically I tore it straight off. From then, I suppose I was looking for a sport. I was always good at Aussie Rules and tennis and a few other things. Not really (golf). Go out once a month with friends. Golf was the sport I landed on and with the handicap system it’s worked out really well.
“I tried a few other things but just didn’t fall in love with them. I became a member of Long Reef about ’99, started on a 27 handicap and worked my way down.”
Originally he played one-handed. More recently, he found a prosthetic device which attaches to the grip. “I keep redesigning it to suit my swing,” he said. “It rolls on to the back of the club, you grip it down and it’s got a flexible wrist so you can sort of cock the wrist over the shoulder and get something toward a normal swing.”
As a strong and hard-working member of the all abilities golf community, he is passionate about the benefits of golf as a way back from a disability or accident.
“Absolutely. So you can compete with the best in the world, with the handicap system,” he said. “You can play with anyone. I’ve got great mates out on the course, out there for five hours. Works out really well actually.”
In the Australian Wheelchair Championship Wollongong’s Nick Taylor had 35 stableford points to lead, despite having four double bogeys in his 87 off the stick.
“It was a tough day in the wind, not having seen the course before it was tricky to know where the right places are to leave yourself good shots into the green,” he said.
Taylor has come to golf after a career as a wheelchair basketballer, having suffered a serious injury in a car accident when he was 18.
He plays off 12 at Port Kembla Golf Club but has been as low as 10 handicap; single figures is a key target. Taylor said the handicapping system was crucial to what all abilities players were able to achieve and aspire to.
“It allows us to compete on a level playing field with able-bodied players as well. It really is an inclusive game. I’m a member of my local golf club, I get to play in the weekly comp on a Sunday morning, I meet a lot of new people, I’m outdoors which is fantastic. From an inclusion perspective, golf is just the perfect game for getting people of all abilities and disabilities get out there.”
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