The female golfer making Australian Open history

When Daphne van Houten booked her spot in the Australian All Abilities Championship (AAAC), she instantly felt sick.

Becoming the first female in history to compete in the Australian Open field didn't phase the Dutch golfer.

Nor does the prospect of being the first - and only - women to have a crack at this year's AAAC.


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Daphne van Houten who will play in the 2019 Australian All Abilities Championship at the Australian Golf Club. Picture: Brett Costello
Daphne van Houten who will play in the 2019 Australian All Abilities Championship at the Australian Golf Club. Picture: Brett Costello

But a 24-hour flight from Amsterdam to Sydney was bound to be torturous for van Houten, who has lived with scoliosis since she was 12-years-old.

"It's like having a migraine in your lower back, that's where my biggest curve was," she said.

"The pain is different each day, hard flying 24-hours was very difficult but I managed."

Van Houten was diagnosed with scoliosis nine years ago, when X-rays revealed that her spine curved 52 degrees from vertical.

She was told that she needed corrective spinal surgery and that she may never play golf again.

"The operation itself wasn't that hard, but afterwards, it felt like I wasn't standing straight" van Houten said.

"My muscles needed to find their new place in my back, and that was the most painful thing, and it was really to get my golf swing back" she said.



The pain is ongoing, unpredictable and immeasurable, but it is something that the 21-year-old has learned to accept.

"It has become so normal that I don't feel it anymore, " she said.

"Some days are harder than other days, but painkillers, stretching and warming up do help."

But nothing could keep van Houten away from the game, who was in the field just one week after her operation.

"I've always been addicted to golf because it's nice to be outside and it's good for your body, but I didn't know about disabled golf," she said.

"But then I met Marcella."

Marcella Neggers, head coach of the Netherlands' Golfers with Disability team, will join van Houten on field at the Australian Golf Club as both coach and caddie.

Under Neggers, van Houten became the no.15 player on the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability and earned an invitation to the 12-player AAAC.

"When I first saw Daphne play three years ago, I thought she was fantastic, straight away I tried to convince her to play professionally" Neggers said.

"She never misses a drive, her short game is quite good, she's getting better under the pressure, and she's just a youngster."

Van Houten can't wait to tee off on Friday morning and hopes to inspire both women and people with disability

"The decision to play disabled golf over non-disabled golf was hard, but when I started playing with these guys in the Netherlands it was just so much fun," she said.

"My main goal is to get more disabled women to play golf and more competitions for us to play golf."

The 21-year-old lines up against 11 male golfers in the AAAC and will become the first woman to compete in the Australian Open field.

"I've never been the only woman in the field. I am excited and nervous," she said.

"I will be practising today and this week, I think I can beat them."