That Cameron Pollard can sit for 20 minutes and talk about the anxiety he is likely to experience in travelling to the UK to contest the G4D Open is perhaps the greatest indicator of all.
An indicator of just how far Pollard has come since he first travelled overseas for a golf tournament at 17 years of age.
That was seven years ago for the 2016 Special Olympics Macau, where getting to the first tee was its own personal triumph.
Such was the anxiety that wracked Pollard’s brain, he passed out when his regular hairdresser was unavailable in the weeks leading up to his departure. He fell face first onto the concrete, splitting both his chin and eye.
“I ended up getting a free haircut,” he now jokes.
“Being so anxious and having panic attacks, the first time I went to Hong Kong I just stopped eating about a month before,” he adds, essentially surviving on vitamin water while he was away.
“I didn’t know I wasn’t eating but I was just nervous. I passed out a few times and didn’t eat much while I was over there. I lost like 20kg in a month.
“The build up to these events is more stressful than playing it.
“I am more confident going over there now because I’m settled in a lot of these tournaments and I know a lot of the people playing.
“It’s like going to see a few of my mates that I haven’t seen in a while. You don’t worry about anything else, so that’s a big change for me.”
Pollard and Hervey Bay’s Lachlan Wood will start favourites for the 36-hole 2023 Queensland Inclusive Championship at Redcliffe Golf Club starting Thursday.
The pair will use it as the final tune-up before representing their country at the R&A’s inaugural 54-hole G4D Open at Woburn Golf Club in England May 10-12 where they will be joined by fellow Aussies Geoff Nicholas and Adam Letherbarrow.
Pollard remembers how hard it was to travel to Macau – he spent four months in hospital upon his return such was the toll that it took on his body – yet he is embracing the opportunity afforded to him by the $20,000 grant he received for winning two of the four Webex Players Series All Abilities events.
“I’m glad to represent them and see what I can do for them in return. Hopefully win and get it out there,” says Pollard, who will wear adidas apparel featuring the Webex logo.
“It’s like representing yourself. You don’t want to let yourself down so you don’t want to let anyone else down. That’s just sport and life.”
Pollard will have carer and caddie Dan Shipley as a travel companion as he embarks on the biggest trip and most significant tournament of his life.
He has considered playing in more European Disabled Golf Association events but he acknowledges that for him, it is not as simple as jumping on a plane with golf clubs in tow.
“I just don’t know how I’m going to take my meds on the way over there and on the way back,” Pollard says of the medical logistics he must face. “I’ll be taking night-time medication in the middle of the day and stuff like that.
“Being a pro, the week-in, week-out playing golf, that would be the hardest part. Doing it overseas would be even tougher, especially for myself with all my medications and stuff like that. That would be a bit of a struggle.
“After most rounds my legs get sore but I shouldn’t be complaining when I’ve got all my limbs and you’ve got people out there with no legs.”
After dominant wins in the first two Webex All Abilities events at TPS Victoria and TPS Murray River, Pollard lost in a playoff to Geoff Nicholas at TPS Sydney presented by Webex and finished second to Lachlan Wood at TPS Hunter Valley.
The emergence of Wood in the All Abilities tournaments is pushing Pollard to better his own game, starting with the R&A’s first G4D Open.
“His world ranking jumped from 50th to sixth after the New Zealand All Abilities Championship, which is a big jump,” says Pollard, who is currently ranked No.22 in the WR4GD ranking and won both the WA PGA and WA Open All Abilities tournaments.
“It is pushing me because it’s not so easy to win all the time.
“Especially going over to England, it’s not going to be easy. I’m going to have to play me best golf.
“The first ever G4D Open, it’s pretty big.”
And another big milestone in golf’s impact on Pollard and his family.