Craig Stirton

Craig Stirton

SADGA Gave Me A Purpose

I left the library and made my way across the University of Cape Town’s Jammie Plaza toward my Media and Writing tutorial in AC Jordan building, my mind running faster than the greens of Augusta National. We had to pitch a blog series concept that made up a large part of our first semester grade and I had clean forgotten to prepare anything. Just as I crossed the threshold into the Tut room, a light bulb went off: Golf. South Arican Disabled Golf. I’d participated in one SADGA Provincial Day to that point but figured if I hacked my way through the presentation, I could iron out the wrinkles and nail down an article plan later. Little did I know that what began as a desperate attempt to escape reprimand from my tutor would evolve into one of the most fruitful chapters in my life.


Good things often happen in odd numbers. Except three-putts of course but three things happened in the space of seven weeks which changed the trajectory of my life. I wrote an article on SADGA member and leg-amputee Trevor Reich, far from my best work but solid enough. Some weeks later I profiled the SADGA as part of my final Media & Writing blog post assignment, doing a video interview with Ignation Douries to highlight the tremendous work of the association. A week after sending my article to SADGA Operations Manager Lily Reich, I was offered a position as a part-time media liaison for the SADGA. I could’ve scarcely believed at the time the profound impact this wonderfully kind and all-around lovely woman would have on my life in the years to come.


She took a chance. A chance on a kid who had for much of his life grappled with his sense of self and battled to find his place in the world. Attending Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School in my earlier years, sport and particularly cricket was the medium through which I forged connections with my peers.


But poor eyesight and reflexes caused by my Hemiplegia and the effects of Hydrocephalus meant that I was unable to play cricket beyond Grade 7. At the time I thought my only connection to others through sport had been irreparably severed. I was devastated.


Some years later, in 2016, my Dad stumbled upon an ad for the SA Disabled Open and encouraged me to join the SADGA. Tests to verify the extent of my disability followed and I was given a sporting participation lifeline.


Don’t get me wrong, I’d been playing golf for a few years at that point but playing among my physically-gifted friends and family meant not even my modest handicap at the time could level the playing fields.


Playing SADGA events is different. I chuckle thinking that compared with amputees or the blind, my Hemiplegia is somewhat of a mild case.


But the SADGA doesn’t employ me to play golf. They employ me to live out my dream: Telling others’ life stories via the written and spoken word. I thus don’t get to tee it up alongside my fellow members as often as I’d like and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The SADGA has given me free rein to develop my skills as an interviewer, writer and graphic designer and I’m not about spreading myself thin for the sake of a round of golf.


But whenever I do get out on the course, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. My game isn’t where it should be though. A lack of regular practice means that I seem to be confined to one really good round a year and spend the rest of my time wallowing in mediocrity.


I hope to change all that soon. But not before I tick off a major bucket list item, covering an event at Wentworth Club in England. Not just any tournament, the G4D Tour @ BMW PGA Championship and the BMW PGA Championship itself.


As I write this from an Airbnb in Kildare, Ireland I know none of what I experience over the coming two weeks would be possible without the SADGA. Working for such a well-respected association has given me credibility and the opportunity to build a body of content that demonstrates my abilities as a content creator.


I’ve always struggled with my identity and have often been less than accepting of my disability. But the wonderful members of SADGA have taught me above all to accept myself, the journalist with the often-messy hair and the limp.


The journalist who champions the stories of extraordinary individuals whose awe-inspiring stories should be heard the world over.

Golf gave me a passion. The SADGA gave me a purpose.

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