Graham Roberts – A story of Courage, Determination and Love

Posted on: 23 August

In the wake of Covid lockdowns, mask wearing, QR codes and other restrictions including the sacrifice of not playing golf and the inconvenience of having to buy rolls of toilet paper I thought I would share this story with you to put our current times into some perspective.

At the end of July ’21 a member of NSWVGA played three rounds of golf over three weeks at Maclean Golf Club in Northern NSW. In those rounds he scored 32 stableford points, 26 points and 36 points. “What’s remarkable about that?” I hear you ask. Well, Graham Roberts is 84 years old, almost 85, and is a double amputee, having had both legs removed below the knee in two operations between December 2019 and August 2020.

Graham Roberts is a remarkable man. For years now he has played golf, not in golf shoes but in slippers with the toes cut out and held comfortably around his feet with Velcro straps. All this necessary to alleviate the pain generated by the poor circulation in his feet. He and his lovely wife, Marlene, continued to support many Weeks of Golf and are well known and much loved by travelling vets throughout the state. They have also volunteered much of their time to ensuring the success of Maclean Veterans Week of Golf. Graham is probably the first person to greet you at the entrance to the parking area on your arrival and later in the day, while acting as a spotter at the seventeenth green, will tell you that your ball is either in the water or OOB. During all the years of travelling and volunteering he has never been known to complain about his condition despite it becoming worse as time progressed.

During the bushfires in the Maclean area in December 2019 Graham was admitted to a Lismore hospital to have his first operation. On his return home he set out, with more than a little determination, to master walking on a prosthetic leg with the aim of playing his beloved golf again. With Marlene as his support team coordinator he was bound to succeed. However, in August 2020 the condition in his “good” leg worsened and it was back to hospital for a second amputation.

And now, after 11 long months Graham has made it back to the golf course after mastering the skills of balance, walking, getting in and out of a golf cart and hitting a golf ball. This has been a team effort and Marlene has been beside him, encouraging him with lots of support and love on this difficult journey. His handicap is now 32 but I wouldn’t mind betting that in the near future it will reduce considerably as Graham has a silky swing and is a wonderful putter. And on top of that in his spare time he also mows the rather extensive lawns around the house on a ride – on, albeit with his “old” prosthetics. His new ones have flexible ankles made specially to accommodate his golf swing.

Finally, I will leave you with these words, penned in an email to Graham and Marlene from one David Lorenzo who played with them in one of those three rounds.  “Today I had the privilege of playing golf with the most inspirational man I have ever met. He has no legs. Every time I felt like giving up I looked over at Graham Roberts and thought, “What the hell am I complaining about? If he can continue to play then why can’t I?”

You are right David. Graham Roberts is a modest, friendly human being supported by a lovely, caring Marlene. In the week of the Paralympics, were there a golf team to be selected, Graham Roberts would be my first pick as he has displayed over many years the attributes on which all young Australians should model themselves.

Congratulations Graham and Marlene on your efforts to achieve your goals.

Ian Vidler
President NSWVGA
August ‘21