Olympic shot put medallist Tom Walsh is taking some time out in his early-season competition phase for his new-found passion of golf.
The 24 year old World Indoor Champion and Rio Olympic bronze medallist, will take part in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Golf Open at Millbrook and The Hills on March 9-12.
He will be one of the guests playing in the popular and successful Pro-Am format for the 93rd New Zealand Open.
Walsh, currently training for upcoming summer season in New Zealand and Australia, has become a golfing tragic and the game is an important part of his “downtime” especially when he is based overseas.
The Christchurch-based athlete got the golfing bug from his coach Dale Stevenson and strength and conditioner John Wilson.
“They are both very good golfers on low single figure handicaps. We are away for large parts of the year and in the downtime they would play golf,” Walsh said. “I started to play two years ago and I’ve definitely caught the golf bug.”
Walsh is now a 12 handicapper and a member, along with his coaching team, at Christchurch Golf Club “where they have been really welcoming.”
“I am looking forward to playing at Millbrook and The Hills. I’ve never played those courses yet. I guess I might be more nervous than when I am competing in my shot put.”
Walsh said he and his coaches have strict rules when they play.
“There is a fair bit of banter of course. But we are not allowed to talk shop when we are on the course. For me it is completely different than my sport and its fun.
“I really enjoy the technical aspects and the mental side of the game and of course the rivalry with my coaches.”
No doubt there will be more than just a little interest in just how far the 125kg super-strong athlete can hit the ball off the tee.
Tournament Director Michael Glading said he is thrilled that Walsh has accepted the invitation to play and will join a number of likely sporting celebrities who will be confirmed in the coming few weeks to take part in the New Zealand Open.
“This tournament not only boasts some world class golfers playing for $1 million dollars, but also 144 amateur players who get to play alongside the professionals,” said Glading.
“This unique format allows us to attract some world leaders in sport and business to join us in Queenstown for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open. Adding sporting and other celebrities really adds an extra dimension to our unique event, and we are really pleased to have Tom come and join us this year.”
Other celebrities will be announced in the coming weeks.