CLARENVILLE, N.L. — Clarenville athlete Nicholas Chafe is excited to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the national Special Olympics — he’s been working hard for some time now in preparation.
In an interview with The Packet, Chafe says he’s learned a lot while training to golf. He relays tips like “keep your head down and on the ball,” and how to make sure your drive doesn’t end up in the trees.
He’s been keeping to a strict regimen, recording his exercise and working with coaches from the provincial Special Olympics team.
He likes golfing, saying he enjoys the driving the best, but he also loves walking. He’s very active and walks quite often on his own, between four and six-kilometres every day. They’ve recorded his distances in a log since October.
Chafe started playing golf when he was 12 years old, back in 1992, while living in Gander.
Chafe and his brother, Jonathan, participated in the Junior Golf Program at the Gander Golf Course every summer until they moved to Clarenville in 1999.
Over the years, Chafe, Jonathan and their dad Bob, all would try to get out for a round when they could and when schedules would allow.
Chafe became involved in the Special Olympics in 2012 and has participated in bowling, playing bocce, running track and snowshoeing. He represented Team Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook in 2016 during the national Special Olympics in snowshoeing.
Chafe says he beat all his times in the competition.
In 2016, Chafe became more involved in golf again, upon the suggestion of Gander coaches Joe Philpott and Tanya Smith at the provincial games in Marystown.
After registering for a tournament at Pitcher’s Pond in Whiteway that September, Chafe practised as much as he could, going on to play in the provincial games in 2017, winning the individual skills competition and the individual stroke play event at Bally Haley Golf Club in St. John’s. This qualified him to represent N.L. at this year’s national summer games.
Chafe also works seasonally, valuing his time at B&B Finishing and Forming with Steve Baker. Being so busy, Chafe and his dad make sure to hit the course on weekends to continue practising.
Chafe is thankful to those who helped him along the way, including his dad and brother and Gander coach Tanya Smith as well as trainer Teena Adey. He’s also worked with Jim Stick in St. John’s to improve his mechanics.
He was taught to take a full swing and he has a much longer drive.
Chafe was also lucky to be invited out to Twin Rivers at Terra Nova Resort in May to golf with Golf NL junior golfers, working with people like Blair Bursey, who helped him out a lot. Staff at the resort itself has been wonderful to his progress as well.
Bob says they went through all the skills and went through a nine-hole run through with them.
“Golf NL has been really good to him too,” his father said. “And Terra Nova Golf Course, the folks out there, they’ve been really good to us.”
And Bob himself has worked side by side with his son, taking coach training courses and going through the practice with Chafe at the driving range and on the course.
“It blows me away. It does my heart good,” said Bob.
As the days inch closer, the excitement grows. Chafe will read the athlete’s oath for the participants from Newfoundland and Labrador at an event before they leave for the Games.
Before that, he’ll be participating in the track and field event at this year’s provincial games in July in Stephenville.
While he’s prepared a great deal, Chafe knows what’s really important as well.
“Having fun is key, winning is a bonus,” he says.