WA’s Nick Carroll has praised the positive impact All Abilities golf has had on his life and urges anyone with a disability to “get out there and enjoy the experience”.
Nick, who finished third in October’s WA Open All Abilities championship, has been a regular participant at WA All Abilities events since 2019. Although he’s rarely in contention to win, he says the benefits the sport has delivered more than make up for that.
“Anyone with an intellectual or physical disability, anyone can enjoy the game,” he said. “It’s helped me to build friendships and camaraderie a lot more. Now pro golfers like Brett Rumford and Benny Ferguson walk past and say g’day.”
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. A family friend, Jim Holroyd, took Nick to the golf course to teach him the basics, and he later 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.
“It’s given Nick a real sense of identity when sometimes for people with disabilities, that’s really hard. The day he found golf was life-changing for him and that’s why he has such a passion for it.”
It’s a passion Nick 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. “The more people with a disability we can get playing golf, the better.”
A version of this article first appeared on the Golf Australia website