February 1, 2023, marks the 37th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day, with golf advocating to build a vision where every girl and woman can play, be active, and realize her full potential. It’s time to transform the game so that every girl and woman can unlock her power.
Natasha’s story is unlike everyone else’s. She has an intellectual "difference", as she refers to her disability because she learns differently. It means that in group environments, words get lost, and she also has autism. It’s been a long journey, never quite feeling like she belonged — until she found tranquility and community in golf.
At eight years old, a teaching professional came to teach a golf lesson at her school. He instantly saw potential in Natasha’s golf game and suggested taking lessons. She joined ClubLink’s elite Glen Abbey Academy shortly after, where she enrolled for a few years – working with different coaches to improve her skills and competing in local golf tournaments.
Now 24, Natasha has claimed nine titles in the past four years and continues to compete nationally. Natasha has won Heron Point Women’s Club Championship (2018, 2019 and 2020), Golf Ontario Disability Women’s Championship (2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022), and the inaugural Canadian All Abilities Women’s Championship in 2021 and 2022. She never believed she could achieve her first title, but she did it, and winning hasn’t stopped since.
This year, Natasha will be the only Canadian female golfer from Ontario chosen to be on the Special Olympics Team Canada for the World Games in Berlin in June, capturing the the Level 5 Ontario Qualifier to make the team. In July 2022, she was chosen to be the only female golfer from Canada to compete at the Inaugural USGA Adaptive Open at Pinehurst #6. There were 29 states and 11 countries represented, with Natasha placing second in the intellectual disabilities category (two strokes behind the winner), finishing fifth out of eighteen female golfers overall. This was a huge tournament with a lot of press — even Tiger Woods tweeted, “We all should be inspired watching the #USAdaptiveOpen. Good luck to all the competitors and never give up!”
Because of Natasha’s placement, she received an exemption into the 2023 tournament, returning to Pinehurst #6 in this July. She will also be playing in her first US Disabled Open in Port St. Lucie Florida (May 8-10).
While attending OUAZ (Ottawa University in Surprise, Arizona) in 2019, Natasha shared her story and background about her disability, hoping to inspire other individuals who may struggle to feel included.
“I was definitely scared, but I wanted people to understand the obstacles that I’ve faced, and how I keep working hard and won’t give up. I wanted to be a voice for those who can’t or don’t get the chance to speak up. We all have differences, and it was important to me that everyone recognizes, respects, and accepts all differences. Instead of seeing what people can’t do, we should see and celebrate what they can do. We each have our own journey. It’s not a race, and no two journeys are the same.”
With her best score sitting at 74, it tells a story that she can play next to any seasoned golfer, but her tenacity can be challenged when she tees off with new groups of people. Her favourite club to use is her Titleist TSI driver, and at 5’0”, Natasha has built her confidence to tee off as a driving powerhouse. Her dream foursome includes a round with Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, and Jordan Spieth, all of whom she looks up to for their humble, caring style of sportsmanship. Natasha hopes to see a competitive special abilities team created at ClubLink one day, so she can play and work on her game with talented players like her.
Get to know Natasha. Click to play.
We asked for words of wisdom to keep cool on the course; Natasha simply suggested to not lose focus and move on to the next hole because everyone stumbles — even the pros.
To support Natasha's journey, follow her on Instagram to lend words of support and encouragement.