Australian Wheelchair Championship first at inclusive Vic Open

Published: 4 Feb 2022

Victoria Golf Open 2020

Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.

Rochester retiree Peter Hyden considers himself an average person trying to have a game of golf.

Peter Hyden a para-golfer

The truth is, he goes about his game differently to everyone else. Paralysed from the chest down due to a motorbike collision in 2011, Peter uses a specialised all-terrain power chair and swings one-handed to get through his game.

Peter will be among the first players taking part in the inaugural Australian Wheelchair Golf Championship alongside professional golfers at the 2022 Vic Open at 13th Beach in Barwon Heads from 10 – 13 February.

“I didn’t know golf existed for us in a wheelchair until six years ago when I met someone at a ‘para party’ who played,” Peter explains. “I’m really looking forward to playing in the Championship and showcasing what we can do.”

Prior to his collision, Peter played golf socially and enjoyed any activity featuring the outdoors. As a valued member at his local golf club in Rochester, he now fits in a game at least once a week, thanks to the mobility offered by his para-golfer.

“Mentally it’s taken me about 12 months to get used to the fact I can’t smack the ball as far as I used to. I’ve certainly opened people’s eyes where I play but they’ve all been so supportive,” he says.

The Vic Open was the first event in the world to feature men and women playing for equal prize money on the same course at the same time, and 2022 marks the ninth consecutive playing of the tournament at 13th Beach.

Golf Australia General Manager, Events & Operations, Therese Magdulski said the event’s coastal venue and relaxed vibe is what sets it apart from other major sporting events in Victoria.

“The whole feel of the event is very welcoming,” Therese says. “There are no ropes, and you walk through the clubhouse entrance when you arrive. The area has a laid-back, beachy, village feel and that vibe has contributed to its popularity within the community.”

A large diverse crowd watching players tee off

This is the first year the Vic Open will incorporate the Victorian Inclusive Championship, a 36-hole world ranking, within the event itself. Participants from across Australia who are vision impaired, amputees, neurological and players with intellectual disabilities come together under the same rules and contest the gross, net and stableford events.

In an Australian first and the only event of its type in the southern hemisphere, the Inclusive Championship will include the inaugural Australian Golf Wheelchair Championship. Seated golfers, like Peter, play through assistive equipment designed specifically for golf.

“This event showcases that golf is so diverse and is a sport that can be played by anyone,” Therese explains.

With the four-day tournament expecting to attract up to 20,000 spectators, it will provide a welcome economic boost to the region.

The Victorian Government’s investment in the Vic Open has supported the event’s growth and help cement its place on Victoria’s enviable major events calendar. Golf contributes $883 million to the state’s economy and supports 6,900 jobs.

Page last updated 21 Jun 2022
Back to top