<“The whole experience was like a dream, the next day you think: did that really just happen?”>
A young golfer from Edinburgh played alongside his favourite golf stars at the world-famous Renaissance Golf Club, as part of a wish granted by Rays of Sunshine. 18-year-old Oliver was diagnosed with a brain tumour in August 2010, at the age of five. Since then, he has had multiple rounds of chemotherapy, proton therapy and more than 20 operations to manage his condition.
“My diagnosis has been hard to deal with sometimes, especially when it forced me to leave school, and having to be so careful during the pandemic,” says Oliver. “It can make me feel quite down and alone at times, but the one thing that has really helped to pick me up is golf.”
Oliver was introduced to golf by his mum Anne when he was 13, following a two-year chemotherapy programme that left him feeling weak. Oliver was prescribed a programme of physiotherapy exercises, which he admits he didn’t enjoy doing.
Anne decided to try and get her son moving in a different way, and suggested they both take up golf at their local golf course, the Liberton Golf Club in Edinburgh. It didn’t take long for Oliver to fall in love with the sport, and the pair have enjoyed playing together for many years.
<“I have been watching Peter, Rick and Catriona play for years – they’ve been a kind of constant in my life – so to play golf and learn with them feels unreal.">
Why Oliver chose the wish
“I really didn’t enjoy doing the exercises, and I think my mum suggested golf as a last resort – now it’s a huge part of my life,” says Oliver. “Whenever I play, I’m always reminded of those first few games with mum, when she was encouraging me to walk more. When Rays of Sunshine asked me what I wanted to do for my wish, I knew it would be something to do with golf.”
Oliver was treated to a dream day of golf, thanks to the Renaissance Golf Club Foundation, with his golfing heroes – Rick Shiels, Peter Finch and Catriona Matthews – joining him on the course.
Oliver’s thoughts after the wish
“The whole experience was like a dream, the next day you think: did that really just happen?” he says. “I have been watching Peter, Rick and Catriona play for years – they’ve been a kind of constant in my life – so to play golf and learn with them feels unreal.”
Oliver and mum Anne spent the first portion of their day shopping at the Renaissance Club’s Pro Shop, before heading out to play a full 18 holes with Peter and Catriona. Oliver impressed the two seasoned golfers with his skills, and PGA golf star Victor Perez even made an appearance to compliment the young golfer’s putting skill.
After finishing up the holes – including a scenic lunchtime break at the course’s tenth hole halfway house – Oliver sat down for dinner and a Q&A with Peter and Rick Shiels. This was followed by a one-on-one coaching session with Rick at the Renaissance driving range.
Oliver walked away from the day with armfuls of golf goodies, thanks to the generosity of Peter, Rick and Catriona, as well as the Renaissance Golf Club Foundation. He is now keen to find a job that will allow him to remain close to his beloved golf!
“The whole experience definitely just confirmed that I really want to pursue a career in golf. Meeting all the team at the Renaissance opened my eyes to the other jobs there are in the industry, and that it’s not all about playing golf,” says Oliver.