Reigning WA Open All Abilities champion Cameron Pollard heads into the defence of his title at The Western Australian Golf Club in terrific form, confident of notching up yet another win in what has been a stellar past few years for the New South Welshman.
Pollard, 23, has racked up four straight wins, including the 2021 WA Open All Abilities Championship, which was rescheduled to April of this year, the recent South Australian Inclusive Championship and last year’s Victorian and New South Wales Inclusive Championships.
“I’m pretty happy with my form of the last few weeks,” explains Pollard, who romped to a seven-stroke win at Tanunda Pines Golf Club last month. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Perth and going into the event as the defending champion.
“I haven’t played the course before, but I’m excited about ticking it off the bucket list, and if I can do that with another win it will be even sweeter.”
The 36-hole 2022 WA Open All Abilities Championship will once again be contested during this year’s Nexus Advisernet WA Open in Perth, with participants playing on the same course, at the same time, and under the same playing conditions as the professionals.
“It’s all part of the fun,” Pollard says. “Playing alongside the professionals, in front of the fans; I’m just going to soak it all in.”
Pollard is the Assistant Golf Professional at Sawtell Golf Club on the north coast on New South Wales, where he works under PGA of Australia professional Brendan Barnes, who doubles as his swing coach.
Although he has a number of disabilities, the most significant being autism, Pollard has not let that hold him back and he currently plays off an impressive Handicap Index of +1.1.
The 2018 Special Olympics National Games champion dreams of turning professional and playing on the mainstream circuits one day.
“I need to put in extra work to get to the next level,’ he explains. “I’m pretty lucky because I work in the pro shop, so once I’ve done all my jobs I can go out and practice or play a few holes.”
He also recognises the role that golf has played in helping him cope with his disabilities, which include severe anxiety.
“I don’t really take much notice about my disabilities,” he says. “My autism is the main disability, and I know that I could have a panic attack at any time. But so many people have helped me work through my anxiety and golf has become my go-to place where I get into my own little world and just do what I love.
“My caddie Daniel has been a huge help – he pushes me back into place when I feel the anxiety coming and helps me get through it.”
Pollard’s coping mechanisms have helped him stay calm where others might be prone to nerves when in contention to win tournaments.
“I just get one with it,” he explains. “It’s pretty much just me and the course and I focus on my routines and keeping myself calm and not getting ahead of myself.”
All Abilities competitions are open to participants from across Australia who are vision impaired, amputees and players with intellectual and neurological disabilities.
By incorporating the All Abilities Championship into the Nexus Advisernet WA Open, it serves as a reminder that golf truly is a game for all, says GolfWA chief executive Gary Thomas.
“The WA Open All Abilities Championship showcases the inclusive nature of our game,” he says. “Since Covid, we have seen a significant increase in participation in the sport and we hope that golfers of all abilities will be inspired by the event to give the game a try.”
The Nexus Advisernet WA Open Championship will be played at The Western Australian Golf Club in Yokine from 20 – 23 October. Entrance s free for all spectators and there will be a number of fun activations for patrons to enjoy at the event.