Having disability foist upon one through illness or accident is a physical and mental challenge many people simply don’t have the patience or perseverance to tackle. Since spinal cancer confined him to a wheelchair and a life of paralysis some seven years ago, Ian St John has demonstrated admirable perseverance and a willingness to develop the patience required to get the very most out of life.
Today, a father to two daughters aged seven and nine, St John grapples with tasks that were once routine like reaching for a cup or bowl on a shelf.
But what of the Irishman’s golf game? The game which yielded an Irish Schools Championship victory in 1995 and saw him compete on both the Irish PGA Tour and Euro Pro Tours in adulthood?
The man from Tramore in County Waterford is no less competitive now than he was prior to his paralysis, he’s just changed the arena in which he competes.
“I got the opportunity to represent Ireland at The European Championships in Holland, England and Italy this year. To play for your country is the highest honour,” he said.
Such achievements warrant admiration. Even more so when you consider not just the shopping list of ailments St John contends with just to tee it up (osteoarthritis, osteopenia, osteoporosis, three fractures in my spine and spasticity in his legs) but also the rigmarole of traveling to international events.
St John isn’t just doing great things on the course but off it too. Co-host of the 3 Off The Tee Podcast, St John has interviewed some of the finest golfers to ever play the game from SADGA Patrons Retief Goosen and Dale Hayes to Annnika Sorenstam and Dame Laura Davies among others.
St John’s participation in the Cape Town Disabled Golf Open and his perspective is a timely reminder of the considerable benefits enjoyed by the assembled field.
“I’m very competitive so I cannot wait to get playing but I love to travel and meet people and make new friends especially in the disabled community.
“I like to think we are a very tight knit group and we learn off each other and we can laugh at each other which is very refreshing!”