27th – 29th October, 2023, Thurgoona Country Club

NSW Senior Open Site Logo

Joyner Set To Face His Toughest Test

Glenn Joyner Golfer

It’s often said you can’t win a golf tournament on day one, but Glenn Joyner shattered that axiom into a billion pieces at Thurgoona today.

Joyner played well – exceptionally so in parts – in carding a three-under-par 69 to begin his New South Wales Senior campaign.

But form aside, this isn’t really a golf story. It’s so much more.

Joyner, a popular fixture in Australian golf circles for decades, had been enjoying an extremely successful 2022 on course. He’d won several Legends Tour events late last summer, then parlayed that into winning qualifying with a scintillating 63 to reach the main field of the Senior British Open in July.

But his life soon took an unimaginably cruel twist.

Joyner was diagnosed with bowel cancer, then, after a couple of operations, given news that would break a lesser human.

Glenn Joyner watches his tee shot on the 18th

The tumour had broken loose into his abdomen and his oncologist confirmed stage four cancer that could be managed by chemotherapy but was highly unlikely ever to be conquered.

It was a shock beyond words for Joyner, who had been as high on life as he could remember with golf humming and wife Carolyn by his side.

Fast-forward through two months – not to make light of painful, nauseating treatments and some intense soul-searching as a family – and Joyner decided earlier this month to come to Albury for a tournament he’d had his eyes on through his hot summer streak.

But rather than practise as he has throughout 30-odd years as a pro, Joyner’s preparation came above the neck.

He lay in bed, recuperating as best he could, plotting his way around the Thurgoona Country Club course.

It soon became apparent that this was Joyner’s powerful carrot as he realised the role golf might play in his new world.

“It’s been quite a journey to get here, mate,” he said after an opening round that comprised equal parts class and grit.

“I’ve spent a bit of time just lying on the bed and visualising playing here.

“My body is feeling pretty good considering, and I’m probably in as good a shape as I’m going to be for a while,” he said as a tear welled in his eye, sadly not for the last time during his chat.

“So I just thought it’s important to me to come out and play and be Glenn Joyner – not to sit around feeling sorry for yourself.

“I get to forget about what’s going on while I’m playing golf.

“That’s my plan; just keep doing it while I still can.

“If someone said to me you’ve got 12 months to live and you can do whatever you want, I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing.”

Those words sound far more fatalistic than intended.

Because, as anyone who knows the journeyman South Australian turned Victorian who now calls Queensland’s Sunshine Coast home will attest, he’s always been a determined bugger and has no intention of changing now.

Glenn Joyner waits to hit his shot into the ninth Green

He’s unsure whether to put his eggs in the basket of more abrasive chemotherapy or just live as normally as he can and fight it that way.

“I think a bit of both of those, for right now,” Joyner said.

“Carolyn is such an amazing person – absolutely everything to me, and I honestly can’t imagine doing this without her. She said to me you can’t spend any energy worrying about when or how you’re going to die because you’re not spending it on living while you’re doing that.

“That was a big (lightbulb) moment … and it’s true.

“I’ve come to terms with it, but I just keep showing up; that’s my motto.
“There’s no quit in me; there never has been – f*** cancer.

“I’ll do whatever I need to do. I’m doing some mental stuff, and I guess we’ll see if my mind is stronger than the disease, won’t we?

“One of my good friends is a doctor at Peter MacCallum (Cancer Centre in Melbourne). She said to me, `Just remember that all you need is a one per cent chance because you’ve been in that one per cent your whole life.

“That’s all I need.

“You just need to be around the right people.

“When they told me, the doctor said he wasn’t sure if the chemo would do anything, and then he started talking timeframes, and I said, `You don’t know me; I’m going to be that guy that you tell all your patients about.
“And he looked at me and didn’t know how to handle it because I guess he’s used to everyone just rolling over.

“The way I look at it, I’m not one of their percentages because I’m fitter and mentally tougher, and I can do stuff that most of their percentages can’t do.

“So that’s my plan. Whatever time they tell me, I’m going to double it.
“The whole thing is a journey. There are so many questions that I don’t have answers to.

“But all I know is I’ll do whatever it takes to be me for as long as I can.”
So golf is clearly secondary, but by the same token, it remains an essential component of what makes Joyner tick.

Given that, could he imagine what it might be like to lift the NSW Senior Open trophy come Sunday?

“I’d be lying given what I told you about visualising the course if I said I hadn’t thought about it,” he said with trademark cheeky grin.

“So yeah, my mind’s gone there, but I don’t have the energy to think too far ahead or look back. I’m not spending any energy on what’s happened; just looking to enjoy every day and do what I can while I still can.

“I did a really good job of staying right in the moment out there today.
“If there’s one thing this has taught me, it’s that you can’t think too far ahead or too far back because you gotta enjoy right now because that’s all I’ve got control over.

“And that’s why we’re here because I actually have control over it.

“When you travel the world playing this game, you have to overcome a lot of stuff to be able to perform.

“And one of my strengths is to be able to put stuff behind me, to reset, then to go again.

“So yeah, it would be nice to be in the hunt on Sunday, but for now I just need to have a 3-4 hour nap – controlling what I can, mate!”

More To Explore

Got A Question?

Contact us here at Golf NSW and we will try to assist