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Life Stories

By on May 11, 2013
Golf three woman in a row green grass course

Allows you to share your interesting stories about women in Australia who play golf.

They may be about yourself or others you know.

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  2. Rhonda O’Conner

    May 11, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Rhonda O’Conner (nee Gardiner)

    Rhonda’s family was very much into sports, her father played State Cricket and both parents A Grade played tennis. Her teacher, Mrs Gilmore, at McArthur High recognised her talent and helped her develop as a runner.

    In the state championships she broke the 100m under 12s record only to be broken 5 minutes after. Later in the Australian Championships she again broke the 400m record in the open division, to again be broken in the next heat.

    It was very much an amateur sport in those days, with Rhonda working as a hairdresser in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood. Training was only through the summer months, from November to February when the athletics events were contested. She joined the Western Suburbs Athletics Club and was coached by June Ferguson together with Betty Cuthbert, who later won 4 Olympic Gold’s.

    Before the 1964 Olympics she joined the Cumberland Athletics and recorded the 4th fastest time in the world for the newly created 400m sprint. Unfortunately it was slower than 3 other Australian runners Betty Cuthbert, Dixie Willis and Judy Pollick. Rhonda did not qualify to go to the 1964 Olympics, where Betty won her last Gold.

    2 years later it was the Australian Championships and trials for the 66 Commonwealth Games. Going into the event Rhonda held the best times for the 400 and 800 m. In her warm up the day before the event, she pulled her hamstring.

    She was still determined to run and she heard of some miracle injections that the footballers used. She had 3 excruciating injections in 24 hrs. She was able to run the race but broke down halfway through the race. After that, she gave up running.

    Still maintaining her competitive nature, at 25 she took up golf. Being an elite athlete, starting from scratch playing the game resulted in plenty of frustration. As an athlete, Rhonda had a very strong swing, although not always hitting where she required. With persistence and determination, she worked on her game and worked her way down to a 10 handicap.

    She gave up golf for ten years when she married her husband who was not a golfer. She developed her hobby of painting porcelain dolls. Then in 1988, Rhonda joined Concord, her husband paid for her membership so that she could start playing again. She started back with a 32 handicap and loved it.

    Rhonda now plays to a handicap of 12 and in her 3rd years as President at Concord Club, as well as being the Lady Captain. Still fiercely competitive and recently competed in the Concord team winning the silver pennant.

    Still a strong hitter she hits her 3 wood going 165 – 170m. She is currently having lessons with Glen Phillips at Concord and her goal is to get to a single figure handicap.

    She said that “the day you have a good round is the day you play par 3’s well and you putt well”. It is important “How you play the course”. She always believes that tomorrow you may play your perfect round.

    She says “Enjoy the walk, enjoy the company and if you play good golf, it is a bonus”.

    Winning was very important to her. However she experienced the passing of her godson, whom she was very close to, not having children of her own. She watched him deteriorate over a period time from a motor neuron disease. Despite this, he maintained a wonderful attitude to life to the end and gave Rhonda a new outlook to life.

    “I love my Golf,” she says, “although sometimes I have to get off the course before I hurt myself”.

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