On the 8th May this year, Sweden's Caroline Mohr was one of the players chosen to launch the EDGA/European Tour Golfers with Disability Programme in the British Masters Pro-Am at Hillside. Along with her two fellow EDGA players, Caroline wowed the watching public with her excellent golf, and also the assembled world media as, in a press conference, she outlined what golf has given her in her journey through life. Back in 2011, Caroline was on course to qualify for the Ladies European Tour before cancer struck and led to the amputation of her right leg from above the knee. But after taking her own 'Mulligan', Caroline has made her comeback and found a whole new career trajectory...
When Caroline Mohr was eight years old, she was tricked into playing golf for an ice cream by her father. Fourteen years later, however, and Caroline was a 22-year-old Swedish national golfer looking to follow her sister, Louise, onto the Ladies European Tour.
The sisters were lunching in New Zealand, one day in 2011, when they found themselves running for their lives through the streets of Christchurch as an earthquake caused buildings to collapse around them, killing 185 people. The leg that would actually be amputated helped propel Caroline to safety at that moment.
"Suddenly everything started to shake, it got more and more intense and we had to hold onto our table," she says. "Food was flying everywhere. I cannot remember thinking anything other than the need to run; we knew we had to escape from the building and anything that fell from the buildings above. I was just running, running, running."
A matter of weeks later, after struggling with a troublesome knee, Caroline was expecting encouraging words from her doctor only to learn that she was suffering from an aggressive form of bone cancer. Amputation from above the right knee was the only option. The thoughts of playing golf with her sister would help her recover, and she found herself using the same mental techniques from golf, formerly for first tee pressure, when she walked through the doors of the hospital and waited for surgery.
This capacity to focus, borne out of golf, helped Caroline look her surgeon in the eye and talk about her future. Five days after surgery, Caroline was in the hospital's rehab wing when she spotted a golf club, and she remembered her "happiness as an eight-year-old girl... eating ice creams".
Just two months later, Caroline was back on the course, playing with Louise in the Swedish Championships to complete a dream return. Caroline's name is now engraved on the winner's trophy of the (then EDGA) European Individual Championship for 2012 and 2014.
Today, Caroline is a motivational speaker, an Ambassador for Allianz, and a supporter of the charity 'Star for Life' programme. She has also raised thousands of pounds to help finance a school in South Africa to help children in one of the most vulnerable areas regarding HIV and AIDS.
It was during her first trip to the KwaZulu-Natal area when Caroline was touched by the children and their desire to achieve their dreams, despite all the miseries that surrounded them. Caroline did not see any victims, rather "children with shining eyes that overwhelmed visitors with love and gratitude".
Speaking on the night, Caroline hoped to raise €2,500, but the audience liked this dream of hers and €17,000 was raised, enough to pay for three years of education for the 430 South African boys and girls. Caroline says: "Having a dream can make it easier to take decisions for yourself for the future... and try to build your path in life. It was really compelling to me to help build dreams because it was one of the things that for me played such a big role, to live a dream for the future, to get back out there... even when life was so hard and so tough."
Three weeks after that first chat with a doctor, thanks to her own strength, partly forged on the first tee, Caroline was able to look her surgeon in the eye and say: "When you take my leg, you are going to give me life. He then said 'let's make a handshake to that', and that felt really good."
Caroline is just one of 18 golfers, who have shared their story for Mulligan, a book published by the European Disabled Golf Association. To find out more, visit www.edgagolf.com/book