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Tough Love and Second Chances - EDGA

Tough Love and Second Chances - EDGA

By Tony Bennett
The tough love and second chances podcast, reveals remarkable stories of those who refuse to be defined by their disability. The power of the human spirit shines through with examples of how hope, courage and the opportunity to express oneself through the game of golf, makes for a combination that can improve, and even save lives. Written and hosted by Tony Bennett for EDGA.

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The three careers and two lives of Tony Johnstone

Tough Love and Second Chances - EDGA

The Andy Stevenson Story
This is the story of Andy Stevenson from England. Broadcaster and TV producer Andy Stevenson describes himself on his Twitter profile as being born “without a full complement of limbs”. What Andy modestly omits from this profile is his ‘full complement’ of career highs so far. Just as he was inspired by great figures in UK broadcasting as a boy, we hope his unique story here can inspire a few youngsters to consider not only giving golf a try, but serious journalism too. Andy’s story is just as inspiring as those he tells on his award winning podcast, ‘The Winning Mindset', where he interviews various British Paralympians and reveals lessons from the games. Andy has presented around 20 episodes so far, talking to some of the world’s greatest athletes. Please enjoy the story of Andy Stevenson.
April 20, 2021
The Kirsty Wilkinson Story
This is the story of Kirsty Wilkinson from Australia. Kirsty says that when life is a real struggle, sometimes, somehow, you have to “just get out there”, and let the rest look after itself. Kirsty Wilkinson did just that, with a golf club in her hands, and it put a smile back on her face again. Two car accidents, diagnosis of a condition called Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a brother who suffered a brain tumour and years of pain management all led to depression. Kirsty found that golf made a huge difference to her life, helping her physical and mental health considerably, and offering a social network of new friends in the process. In short, it’s Kirsty’s belief that “Golf saved my life.” Please enjoy the story of Kirsty Wilkinson.
April 6, 2021
The Tommaso Perrino Story
This is the story of Tommaso Perrino from Itlay. Tommaso was on the path to a life on the European Tour before a motorcycle accident at just 17 years of age, which led to years of rehabilitation and cost him a career as a professional player.  His passion for the game was never in doubt, and today, he coaches, helping others to get the maxim from their games and living life in the world of golf which gives him great joy. Please enjoy the story of Tommaso Perrino. 
March 23, 2021
The Manuel de los Santos Story
This is the story of Manuel de los Santos from The Dominican Republic. I have had the privilege to get to know Manuel and his wife Elena over the last ten years or so. In this interview we reached into areas that Manuel has never before discussed in public.  I thank both Manuel and Elena for trusting me with the details of an early life that brings context to the man who has earned the respect and love of many in the world of golf.
March 9, 2021
The Masato Koyamada Story
Masato Koyamada is living proof that despite life's inevitable ups and downs, the years we are given are to be embraced, used to the very best of our ability and above all to be enjoyed.  I must confess that I do not speak Japanese and also reveal that Masato doesn't speak English, although I suspect his understanding of my first language is better than mine of his. Masato and I communicated through text and translators, but his story's power is such that it simply has to be told.  This is a story about life, how we choose to live and a father's desire to leave living proof. Please enjoy the story of Masato Koyamada.  
February 23, 2021
The Chad Pfeifer Story
In late November and early December 2019, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my guest for this episode. My first time seeing him play was earlier in the year when he was competing in the US Disabled Open at the Independence Club in Richmond, Virginia. It was great to watch him play, but even better to get to know the man behind the beard. This is the story of Chad Pfeifer.
February 9, 2021
The Christian Nachtwey Story
People who make things out of wood are artisans first, but many are engineers, artists, and some are even game changers for the modern world. One day a German carpenter had the creative foresight to envisage a wheelchair-based powered machine, which would become the ‘ParaGolfer’, and he built his early models out of wood. Christian was looking intently at the problem because he needed the assistance it might offer him, having been paralysed from the waist down in a recent motorcycle accident. His ingenuity would transform the lives of a great many people who were previously not able to stand, walk or swing a club easily, instead enabling them to thrive out on the golf course. This is the story of Christian Nachtwey
January 26, 2021
The Alessandra Donati Story
Alessandra Donati from Italy is passionate about life, golf, and helping others find the game that is making a difference for her and many others. Ale took the time to chat with me about her neuropathic disease with a long name, Charcot-Marie-Tooth that can be shortened to just three letters, CMT. Ale explains the importance she places on golf, from a physical perspective, and how golf allowed her to step out of the shadows, where she would sometimes hide in her early years. If you would like to boost your spirits or remember the good things that your life has to offer as you head into the weekend, then listen to the words of Ale.
January 12, 2021
The Kate Pollard Story
My conversation with Kate Pollard took place at the Australian All Abilities Championship in Sydney. Sue, my wife, had spent some time chatting with Kate over the previous few days and suggested I should speak with Kate.  Kate was happy to chat, and what follows is a story of what she, her husband Scott and the rest of her family deal with, when their son Cameron tees it up in every round. It is a record of her experiences of being a parent of a player who was about to compete on the biggest stage. Please enjoy the story of Kate Pollard.
December 15, 2020
The Julien Mouchet Story
I caught up with Julien Mouchet at his home in the southwestern part of France. He had just finished his day’s work at an inclusive enterprise where 50% of the employees are people with disability. Julien manages the call centre and so I was grateful that he took just one more call that day to record this interview. Cancer in his left hip at just 19 years of age resulted in a significant difference in leg length, and a giant transformation in his approach to golf in the years that followed. Please enjoy the story of Julien Mouchet. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
December 1, 2020
The Terry Kirby Story
"It's not the end of the world, it's not the end of your life. In many ways, it's the beginning. It's just a new chapter." These are the words of Terry Kirby from Hull in England. His story is one that is all too common. But what is not common is how Terry has accepted the set-backs he has faced with a dry sense of humour and a commitment to make the best of his life.  This is the story of Terry Kirby. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
November 17, 2020
The Tony Coates Story
Tony Coates is the epitome of a straight-talking Aussie who has taken the cards that life has dealt him in his stride. I sat down with Tony just a few hours before he was about to tee off in the Presidents Cup Demonstration event, at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The thought of playing for Australia against an International team, over the same course where some of the world's best Tour players had played, raised Tony’s heart rate, though in fairness, probably by not more than a couple of percentage points. Tony is laid-back, and in this short but revealing interview, I had the opportunity to get to know the man that I have enjoyed spending time around, just a little bit better. Please enjoy my conversation with Tony Coates. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
November 3, 2020
The Nicky Weeks Story
My guest this week is former amateur jockey Nicky Weeks from England. I caught up with Nicky a day before she played in an event in the Rose Series during the 2020 Covid period. Nicky was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her late thirties, with the first symptoms coming immediately after a day of accountancy examinations, which led to her becoming a qualified accountant. In golf, Nicky found not only a sport to which she could channel her competitive juices, but also a game that gives her social interaction. I found our conversation fascinating as Nicky explained how she copes with her invisible disability, reveals the importance of keeping fit, and why asking for help is essential in living her life fully. Listen to the story of Nicky Weeks. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
October 20, 2020
The James Gribble Story
My guest this week is James Gribble from Australia. James and I first met face to face in London, at Marble Arch to be exact, where we had our first chat over a coffee. That meeting led on to a couple more get togethers, by internet and in person. James told me the story of how he had visited Africa as a strong and fit young man and left as a quadriplegic. It all changed for James in a split second, but I guess that is the way almost all accidents happen. One minute he was sat on a stool and the next lying on is back in the sand. The journey that James has taken is worthy of a film, and as I speak he is the process of making that happen. Listen to the story of James Gribble. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
October 7, 2020
The Ellie Perks Story
Ellie Perks, one of EDGA’s growing group of Generation Z golfers, defies many of the character traits commonly associated with those born between 1995 and 2009.  Ellie spends hours upon hours helping others to find a game that has all too often been associated with much older participants and has been played for more than 300 years.  I caught up with Ellie just before she was due to help out at a Saturday morning coaching session.
September 23, 2020
The Tony Lloyd Story
There comes a time when everyone can look at their life with some distance and see how it has turned out so far. For some, it's when a significant birthday is on the horizon, when context and objectivity can be separated from emotion and attachment. Tony Lloyd from Shropshire shared a substantial amount of his time to chaperone me through his story of a genetic twist of fate which resulted in him being born with Phocomelia, his stance on opportunity, how golf came into his life and his view of the future. Listen to the story of Tony Lloyd. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
September 9, 2020
The Gail Owen Story
With two generations of golfers already in the family, it would be natural for young Gail Owen to pick up a club and join them on the Hampstead Golf Course on the north side of London. Right? Well, let's not jump to conclusions. Gail did pick up a club, but with no real intent, and it was only when a friend bought her some golf lessons for her birthday that she started to play. Fast forward just a year and Gail finds herself in a doctors office and on the receiving end of the words, "Well you've got multiple sclerosis.” There was little by way of sugar coating. The words, although direct, came slowly but hit hard. Listen to the story of Gail Owen. These profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
August 25, 2020
The Tom Beard Story
At first glance it is easy to look at Tom Beard and wonder why he is playing in an event for golfers with a disability. He is one of the estimated 74% of people who has an unseen disability. Look closer and you will see that Tom walks with a limp, but his demeanour is that of a young athletic twenty something with a quick smile and a good golf game. I caught up with Tom and learned a great deal about club feet, the new treatments that have changed the landscape for those with the condition and how he has made friends for life at his school, his college and at his golf club. Please enjoy my conversation with Tom Beard.
August 12, 2020
The Carol Brill Story
In this far-reaching conversation, Carol explains how she would often find her Mum crying at the kitchen sink and how her Dad had been a wonderful educator to her throughout her life. The words of her father, "You never focus on the problem - you always focus on the solution," are never far away from her consciousness and are aptly followed by, "If there is no solution, then find it." Listen to the story of Carol Brill.
July 28, 2020
The Jennifer Sräga Story
I first met Jennifer Sräga when she was still only fifteen or sixteen years of age. She was playing in the European Team Championship for Germany at the iconic Quinta do Lago in the Algarve region of Portugal. I caught up with her on the 17th hole and watched her play the strategically demanding par five-hole. I cannot remember what she scored on the hole, but as the players stood on the 18th tee, the conversation turned to it being "World handstand day" Before we knew it Jennie had her feet in the air in full handstand mode. Impressive as it was, better was to come just a few minutes later when she played her second shot around and below some trees with a fairway metal. A superb shot that belied her youth, and revealed a player who had experience beyond her years. Listen to the story of Jennifer Sräga. These Profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
July 14, 2020
The Gregorio Guglielminetti Story
Chartered Accountant, Gregorio Guglielminetti, the fun-loving Italian from Turin, gives thanks to his Family for the life he lives today. "When I was a child, my family never treated me as a disabled person, they never wanted support teachers. I congratulate them because it helped me to integrate into society, and because of their decisions, I never felt disabled." Listen to the story of Gregorio Guglielminetti as told by Tony Bennett.
July 1, 2020
The Cristiano Berlanda Story
Sometimes the most iconic line can be delivered from a simple, heartfelt truth. When Cristiano Berlanda breathed the words, "Golf is a beautiful medicine for the spirit," they emerged from the depths of his soul, igniting my curiosity to learn more about this fascinating man from Bergamo, in the Lombardy region of Italy. The story of Cristiano starts in an Italian orphanage, sees him bring enjoyment to thousands of revellers and reveals the importance of family.
June 17, 2020
The Reinard Schuhknecht Story
The first person who tended to Reinard after the accident found him without a heartbeat and not breathing. The ambulance crew made their diagnosis and told his family that their son would have damage to his heart and lungs, together with kidney failure. That was half a lifetime ago for the 28-year-old, affectionately nicknamed Rhino, who says, "It could have been much worse". These Profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
June 2, 2020
The Kenny Bontz Story
The words "I need my life back" came deep from within the soul of Kenny Bontz. The flamboyant American, who hails from New Jersey, is chiselled from a different kind of rock. Get past the mohawk, beyond the confident walk and cut through the hard man exterior, and you will find a man who has experienced the pressure of disease, felt the heat of addiction, and who has emerged on the other side, shining like a precious diamond. Today Kenny finds life fulfilling as he works through the process of becoming the best version of himself. Without valleys, there can never be peaks, and Kenny needs those highs. It is in his character. These Profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
May 19, 2020
The three careers and two lives of Tony Johnstone
Tony Johnstone shone as a player on the European Tour in the 1980s right through to the early 2000s, winning six Tour events as one of the most skillful players in the game. The Zimbabwean was noted for his excellent short game and topped the European Tour’s short game statistics in 1998, 1999 and 2000. His most notable victory was in the 1992 British PGA Championship at Wentworth after a stunning final round 65. At the age of 49, Tony’s life took a turn when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. With a revolutionary drug treatment, his MS went into remission and Tony would make his European Seniors Tour debut in 2006, where he won two tournaments. Today, Tony can be found using his incredible knowledge as a commentator for Sky Sports. Tony’s life before MS is well documented, but it his life after for which he is most grateful.
May 13, 2020
The Tony Poole Story
"It probably is as bad as you think it is, but you're awake." These are the words of advice from Tony Poole when asked what he would say to someone who had just survived a stroke. Tony shoots from the hip, and takes no prisoners with his straight-talking, as one might expect from an ex-pat Kiwi living in the state of Texas, USA. These Profiles are now in the third year and are supported by PING.
May 6, 2020
The Luisa Ceola Story
When words are organised to fit the ‘rule of three, it is said that they become easier to remember. The trinity of words that have formed a pattern of life for Luisa Ceola can be summarised as being, invisible, determined and resilient. Luisa was born in Padova, just as the seventies, a decade full of social and technological change, was on the horizon. As crucial as these breakthroughs were, even then the medical profession could not figure out what was happening to Luisa.  The story of Luisa Ceola takes twists and turns, before finally...
April 21, 2020
20 years of EDGA through the eyes of Helena Brobeck & Pieter van Duijn
Look behind the vast majority of successful organisations, and we can find a story of determination, struggle, conflict, doubt, tough decisions and of course, the people who took the first steps. Every organisation starts small. Typically, successful ones have a clear mission. Perhaps the purpose is to solve a problem that has been unearthed. Perhaps it is to exploit a gap in the market. Perhaps it is because the founders have identified a need, a need that has moved them to make a difference. It is always the people that are the most important. People who care. People who are committed to making a change. People who can see a better way. Two such people, Helena Brobeck and Pieter van Duijn sat down to recall the days leading up to the formation of the European Disabled Golf Association.
April 8, 2020
The Pedro Sottomayor Story
Depending on when you read Pedro’s story, take a few minutes to either remember what you were doing when you were 28 years of age, or if you have not yet reached that milestone, imagine what you would like to be doing as you approach your thirties. At 28 years of age Pedro Sottomayor had his life turned upside down one afternoon in a Doctors surgery when he received a diagnosis that would change his life. Please enjoy my conversation with Pedro Sottomayor.
March 25, 2020
The Deborah Smith Story
Anyone who plays golf soon realises that occasionally we get a bad bounce, or once in a while, the ball will end up in a bad lie, even after a good shot. Likewise, life doesn't always give us exactly what we deserve. So we can either stop, or we can move on, with an attitude that views the situation as an opportunity to learn. Call it perseverance, call it resilience, call it tenacity, call it whatever you like, but Deborah Smith has it in bucket loads and boy has she needed it. Please enjoy my conversation with Deborah Smith.
March 11, 2020
YOUR QUESTIONS: What difference do the PING profiles make?
The normal EDGA Profiles piece is not available this week. Life got in the way and although the scheduled interview is complete and is an incredible story, the player took ill and so we have decided to postpone its publication. All of the listeners will I am sure join EDGA in wishing the player a full and speedy recovery. So this is an opportunity to answer one of the many questions that we get, and perhaps to give a little insight into why we do the PING Profiles and what difference does it make.
February 26, 2020
The Chris Young Story
Chris and I first met when he made the trip from his home in Australia to the Algarve Open at the end of 2019. Immediately we hit it off and just a few weeks later we met again, but this time just a few miles away from his home in Sydney. Our initial conversation started with the devastating fires in New South Wales, included some banter about cricket, and then revealed an incredible life journey which tested Chris and his family to the full, before making a turn that has resulted in him being happier than he was before his life took and unexpected detour. In this story you will meet a man who has thought deeply about what is important to him, who is grateful for the things that we so often take for granted, and who, is a living testimony to the power of the human spirit. Please enjoy my conversation with Chris Young.
February 11, 2020
The Dennis Duchi Story
I had first met Dennis in Richmond - Virginia in May 2019, when he was competing in a US Disabled Golf Association tournament. I had spotted Dennis in the practice day and there was something about him that made me curious. Here was this man laughing and joking with anyone who happened to be nearby, having, what looked to be, the time of his life, and enjoying the camaraderie of other players, some of which I found out later, he had just met. Dennis has an infectious, can do attitude, and is grateful for, as he puts it, his second lease on life. Golf has been part of his life for more that 50 years, except for an enforced ten year absence. Please enjoy my conversation with Dennis Duchi.
January 28, 2020
The Gianna Rojas Story
Gianna Rojas is a force of nature. A relative late comer to the game of golf, she has turned into one of the games fiercest advocates for its ability to bring people together, in an inclusive manner, that benefits everyone who cares to pick up a club. Gianna hails from Maine, and so is called a Maniac in the nicest sense of the word, and she is determined to spread the word that golf is for all, that everyone is differently-abled, and that having a disability does not define the person.
January 14, 2020
The Josh Jones Story
It took a while for Wales born Josh Jones to finally move from Bangor to Brisbane, but by 18 years of age he was in a place that he could justly call home, a city where he would make his life, far from the place of his birth.  Life would change for Josh, who had become an apprentice diesel fitter. He was in the final stage of completing his training in the mines and was working the night shift. In the early hours of the morning, he along with one of his friends Steven were given the task of changing one of the enormous tyres on a dumper truck.
January 3, 2020
The Chris Biggins story
Chris Biggins from the United States, is a qualified PGA of America Professional, and the head coach of the junior programme at his club. Chris has some Bee Hags (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), and is aiming to compete in the Paralympics at both Ski and Golf. Please enjoy my conversation with Chris Biggins.
December 20, 2019
The Christian Hamilton Story
My conversation with Christian Hamilton took place in November 2018 at the groundbreaking AAAC, which was included at the Emirates Australian Open in Sydney. Our discussion was held in the media centre, and so apologies for the background noise. Christian was generous with his time, and our chat revealed a man who is happy to be around others, a family man who is most content with his wife Melissa, daughter Grace and son Laughlin. Please enjoy my conversation with Christian Hamilton.
November 29, 2019
The Tineke Loogman Story
My conversation with Tineke Loogman took place towards the end of August 2019, and although I had known her for the best part of six years, I cannot say that I really knew her. Her reputation, was that of being fiesty, direct and determined. During our connversation over Skype there were times when she was all three, but at the same time she came across as being passionate about golf for the disabled, grateful for the people around her and contenet that her golf business is growing. Please enjoy the story of Tineke Loogman.
November 26, 2019
The Mike Browne Story
My conversation with former Royal Artillery Gunner Mike Browne, took place just a week or so before the first of three events, that would propel him into the golfing worlds consciousness. Mike has torn up the generally accepted notion that it takes time to become a professional golfer. Mike achieved that milestone in a little over two years. Oh, and incidentally, he made the grade, even though he uses a prosthetic leg, to replace the one he lost, when complications set after breaking his leg. In this conversation Mike took me on a journey, starting as a teenager who was competitive in Motorcross, through the accident and 22 limb salvage operations, the dark days that he had in recovery, how he found golf and the people who have helped him, all the way through today, where he is one of the leading players on the golfers with disability world stage. Please enjoy the story of Mike Browne. Please enjoy the story of Andreas Brandenberger. For the full story, photos, and Andreas in his own words, go to: and click on profiles.
November 1, 2019
The Andreas Brandenberger Story
Andreas Brandenberger and I had never met before, but it took just a few seconds for me to understand that Andreas has some special sauce. Andreas was open and engaging, explained the value of being raised in a large family of three brothers and three sisters, how he enjoyed being part of a community and how he found a way to step out of the shadows. Andreas made me think, and he is living testament to the power of gratitude for what life has to offer. Please enjoy the story of Andreas Brandenberger. For the full story, photos, and Andreas in his own words, go to: and click on profiles.
October 18, 2019