Travis Partridge has a remarkable story and he is only 34 years old. He is a quiet achiever that has dedicated his life to helping others; his first career was in school teaching and sport, and now his work lies in renewable IT. He has a passion for golf that would rival any club golfer and is fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He describes his biggest achievement as the arrival of his son, but Travis has another triumph that is notable: he beat cancer at age 28. He is an outstanding young man and tells a captivating story.
At what age did you start playing golf?
I’m 34 now and started playing as a hobby in my teens. I wish I’d started much earlier, but none of my family or friends were golfers so it was a foreign game.
What profession are you in?
I work for Renew IT, a company that provides clients with lifecycle IT hardware solutions. We purchase IT hardware assets from corporate and educational clients, giving the assets another lifecycle. I’m passionate about trying to make sure the future generations can enjoy the world we live in and being able to be part of the solution. Going to work and sending 1,000 laptops to the Middle East or the USA rather than seeing it go into the earth really drives me every day. I want my son and his kids to be able to enjoy the magical golf courses and the beautiful world we do!
How did you start playing golf?
My dad won a set of Brosnan Rhino golf clubs. He said I couldn’t open the box and was going to sell them, but magically the box opened and the rest was history. It was new to me, so figuring out that I could only use a wedge in the backyard and not a driver came by trial and error! My best mate, Frank, pulled me along to our local golf club and held my hand as I discovered the game and the world that is golf etiquette.
How long have you been playing?
I joined a club with my best mate about 15 years of age and started playing weekly comps. I wanted to play other sports and saw golf as a hobby. It wasn’t until I got into my mid-20s, when I stopped playing team sports, that I started taking golf seriously, actually figuring out what I was doing and working to improve on it.
Tell me about your amateur career.
I played a lot of cricket when I was younger so found a lot of the skills transferrable. I missed the boat of playing junior golf at a good level, and having to figure out the game in my teens by trial and error was a fun experience. My first comp round ever, I got reported for not raking a bunker. I had to learn the rules on the run and the many subtleties that go with the game.
As I went to university and started working life, I continued to play comp golf every week but wasn’t improving and was hovering around 10 to 15. That for me wasn’t good enough. I had never had a lesson in my life and probably should have much earlier than I did. It frustrated me that I couldn’t improve and would make the same mistakes. I played a round with an elderly gentleman, mid-70s, who was playing off 4 or 5 and during the round I echoed my frustrations. He told me to focus on 100 metres and in. I was a horrific putter but worked on that part of my game really hard and saw rapid improvements. I figured out some key distances with my wedges and found a putting stroke I trusted but more so worked to understand what happens on the greens in relation to speed, break, etc. I would just putt to the hole without thinking much before but I changed my process on the greens. I now love putting; it’s my favourite part of the game. I changed something I was rubbish at and had negative thoughts about into something I really enjoyed and saw my scores drop rapidly. I now hover between a handicap of 2 and 4.
Have you always been a member of Bonnie Doon? Any other clubs?
No, I’ve been a member at a few clubs. My first membership was as a junior for about 10 years at Surfers Paradise Golf Club. I loved that course and still do. It’s tough but it holds so many fond memories of playing as a young pup with my best mate – not knowing what I was doing but learning about golf.
I worked in the UK and Ireland for about five years. I didn’t pick up a club for the first three years, but when I moved to Ireland I got back into golf as it was a bit more accessible than it was living in London. I joined a local club in Ireland, Elmgreen Golf Club, but only so I could get a handicap and go play other courses. At the time I was in Ireland the financial situation was dire, and golf clubs felt it. Playing the K Club for 50 euro with a burger and beer was daylight robbery!
I moved to Sydney after living in the UK, joined Eastlakes for about a year – might I say, probably the best public track in Sydney – and then joined Bonnie Doon just before the course renovations.
What are your favourite courses you have played?
One of the best things I love about golf is playing other courses and golf trips with my mates. I’m obsessed with golf trips! Kapalua was a course that stands out as incredible fun, King Island is special and Kingston Heath unreal, but my two favourites are Lahinch in Ireland and The Australian, mainly probably due to the experience each time.
Who are the tour players you follow?
I love watching golf and watch too much golf! Obviously, I grew up watching Tiger. Cliché maybe, but for me it was more around what he did to break stereotypes. I was of the assumption golf was an elitist sport and having the same skin tone as Tiger I felt comfortable even though I definitely was a minority. The new crew of kids coming out is incredible to watch: Matt Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, those blokes have got game.
I watched a lot of the European Tour when I lived in the UK, so have some favourites there. Rafa Cabrera Bello, his swing is pure; love Louis Oosthuizen too. I enjoy seeing the Aussie boys Adam Scott and ‘Leish’ do well and thoroughly enjoy seeing Jason Day get vertigo!
I find myself watching a fair bit of the women’s game and only until I saw the girls live did I appreciate how pure their ball-striking is. For what they lack in distance, the way they strike the ball is immense. The South Korean girls are unreal. Ariya Jutanugarn has serious game but I’m enjoying the swing of Anne van Dam. Find me a better swing going around!
Who makes up your dream fourball?
The three boys in my Longest Day fourball. Frank, Geoff and Zak are my dream fourball all day, every day. I love those guys to bits and we’ve spent many an hour and a laugh on the golf course.
If those three blanked me, I’d go with Tiger Woods, Steven Gerrard and Barack Obama.
What are your current goals in golf?
I’m out of golf for a while at the moment. I have had recurrent ACL issues – going in for third reconstruction in November, so my No.1 aim is to get fit. There is no coincidence that both Tiger and myself have the same injuries! Once I’m back, I’m going to work on hitting more fairways and try to get as close to scratch and hold it there if I can. I’m thinking of shortening my backswing a bit more to work on transition through the ball – Tony Finau-like. I just can’t wait to get back on course!
What is your link to the Cancer Council?
I was a lucky survivor of cancer. At the age of 28 I found a tumour and my world was rocked. However, I got through it and through my experiences many don’t. I saw The Longest Day in the UK and once I had gone through the cancer rollercoaster, I wanted to be part of Cancer Council’s Longest Day Campaign. The first person, before my wife or family, I told I had cancer was my best mate Frank who introduced me to golf and is in my Longest Day fourball. I wanted to do something that I was passionate about to raise much-needed money for research and awareness. Running marathons or growing a moustache didn’t resonate with me. Playing four rounds in one day with three of my best mates however did!
How has your story impacted your life and others?
It impacted how I approach every day and what I hold important. Relationships and the people who are important to me is my No.1 motivator now. Before I got sick it was important, but you really learn to cherish every second you have and every moment. My son being born after I was sick was life-changing and I appreciate every minute I have with him. Cancer doesn’t leave many people with second chances, so getting a second chance makes you appreciate every moment so much more. I would hope the people around me, my family and friends, have seen how cancer doesn’t discriminate and take their health and sun protection seriously. I was 28, fit as a fiddle and thought I was invincible!
How has your experience changed you as a person?
I really grasped the idea of gratitude and appreciation going through cancer. It has made me appreciate every day and to be thankful for it. Whether it’s being thankful for playtime with my son or being thankful for just going and playing a round of golf, I’ve really been able to appreciate each moment. Before I was sick, I would let golf get to me and let a bad round ruin my day. Now I don’t think you’d be able to tell if I shot 10-over or five-under. I’m just thankful for being able to be fit and healthy to get outside and play.
How important is skin awareness in Australia?
Huge, and especially for golfers. We are in contact with the sun for four to six hours and to ignore the warnings and disregard sun protection is reckless. Our sun is so harsh, so protection on course, at the beach or any prolonged time in the sun is crucial.
Why support The Longest Day?
As I said above, it really strikes home to me and I’m passionate about the cause. Cancer Council does a tremendous job with cancer awareness and advocacy. They have some of the best minds in the world working to find a cure. If I can support their research, then it’s a no-brainer. I had a team of amazing doctors who took care of me, they were backed by research and I never once doubted them. They will get cancer. It might not be in my lifetime, but they will get it.
What are you hoping to achieve by taking part in the campaign?
After our first year last year, our group said that we would do the campaign every year until our bodies wouldn’t let us. It was the one of the best days of my life. For one day you can play unlimited golf from 5am to 8pm with your best mates. That to me is the ‘perfect day’, not the Longest Day! The aim is to raise more cash than we did last year and hopefully the campaign really takes off.