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Tuesday / May 21.
HomemitwocentsAll for the Good of Golf

All for the Good of Golf

It is possible to do good for others while you’re out doing something for yourself that you love, writes mivision’s roving columnist, social commentator and optometrist, Geoff Lawson.

Being an outdoors sort of guy (who likes to read in his spare time) I am one of many who has acquired an addiction – a healthy addiction, of course – to the wonderful Scottish invention called golf. The fresh air, the interaction with nature, the stroll round the parkland courses or seaside links with a couple of mates as
we solve the problems of the planet, has a powerful attraction. The competitive instinct of either beating the course or beating your mates also kicks in, but the result of the game is merely the sideshow. John Feinstein wrote a non-fiction book entitled A Good Walk Spoilt; and golf can certainly live up to that contradictory sobriquet.

Feinstein was referring to the professional United States golf tour with its big money, larger than life personalities and the associated pressures that come with playing a solitudinous sport to cover the mortgage. The epithet equally applies to the amateur weekend hackers which most of us are. We don’t play for money (maybe a few dollars between friends) but sometimes the shakes (‘yips’ in golfing parlance) grab us just the same when standing over a four-foot putt to avoid double bogey. Heart rates rise and palms sweat, for no great reason.

Accessible For Some

The Scottish invented golf as an informal game, which made use of the long summer evenings in the north. In the winter the greens and fairways could be frozen for much of the day and the mashie and niblick were stashed away until the warmer months.

for those of us who love golf, the more we play, the more we contribute… and therefore, the more rewarded we can feel… I can’t see much wrong with that

In Australia we play all year round, often in shirt sleeves in the mid-winter. Golf in Australia is accessible to just about everyone – all professions, workers, labourers, ladies and gents, primary schoolers and octogenarians. You can turn up to a public course, hire some sticks and be out on the 18 for less the AUD$50. No need to invest in your own sticks or even membership to a club. The climate is conducive and the beverages at the 19th always welcoming. In many countries golf club membership is the domain of the wealthy or at least the upper-middle classes.

In Pakistan, I was given membership at the exclusive Royal Palm (not sure if the Queen has actually approved the ‘Royal’ nomenclature). Only the truly rich of The Punjab were members, the general public could not get past the front gate let-alone tee it up for a few holes.

Golf and Optometry

Which brings me to the meeting of golf and optometry… and the gracious, generous and ‘sweet swinging’ (it’s a golf term of admiration) Tim McKinnon, who has served the profession so diligently and unselfishly as a practitioner and administrator. As a golf addict, Tim uses the vehicle of golf to help raise funds for a higher cause – Optometry Giving Sight.

The annual OAA NSW Golf Day is conducted at his home course of Moss Vale in the delightful southern highlands. This year the weather was paradisiacal, the course could have been set up in golf heaven and the standard of play was somewhere between barely recognisable and dismal. No-one cared who won, except the winner. All the planets had aligned. The optometrists and industry (and hangers on who just wanted to play golf on such a gorgeous day) shook the stress from their lives and made a wonderful contribution to the charity. About AUD$4,000 was raised by a motley crew of would-be sportspeople.

World Sight Day

Once again, Optometry Giving Sight was fortunate to benefit from World Sight Day (WSD). This year, around Australia, over 400 practices participated in WSD, up 70 on the previous year. The total of their contributions and events such as Tim’s golf day, garnered somewhere near AUD$180,000 just for World Sight Day Challenge. Optical companies and optical students also contributed significantly with direct donations and fund-raising events. Throughout the year the total funds raised will be close to AUD$700,000.

On behalf of Optometry Giving Sight, I would like to thank all those who have made sacrifices and contributions to help those much less fortunate than ourselves.

There are thousands of people in Australia and third world countries who enjoy significantly enhanced lives because they now have a pair of spectacles thanks to the services provided from the funds raised.

The virtue of donation is a reward in itself – those men and women of the profession and industry who don’t necessarily receive wide recognition know who they are. And, for those of us who love golf, the more we play, the more we contribute… and therefore, the more rewarded we can feel… I can’t see much wrong with that!

Geoff Lawson OAM is a qualified optometrist and an ambassador for Optometry Giving Sight. He is a former Australian cricketer and the former coach of the Pakistan cricket team. In 1990 he received an OAM for services to cricket and in 2002 was given the Australian Sports Medal.