How playing golf saved Paul's life
GOLF is more than just a recreational release for Paul Pisasale.
More like a life-saver.
The Ipswich mayor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) years ago but the 24/7 way he approaches his job left little room for the physical activity that is needed for sufferers of the disease of the nervous system.
Just over a year ago his family was begging him to find an outlet - and his doctor ordered him to. Golf was the saviour.
Pisasale says his family thought he was "on the path to destruction", but they are now happy for him to run for a third term as mayor in 2012.
"They are happy that I am now having a good work-life balance. To me I am a better person now," he says.
Pisasale's illness saw him have a stint in hospital but he was not prepared to let it beat him.
"With the MS the doctor recommended I take up an activity with hand-eye co-ordination," he says.
"I'd never played golf in my life and I started 12 months ago just to clear the cobwebs. It has been fantastic for my health.
"When you have stress in your life 24/7 your whole body starts to melt down. I'd encourage anybody who needs to de-stress to take up golf.
"Now I'm ambassador for the MS society and do a lot of fundraising. I've used golf to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars ... so people can enjoy a game of golf and raise money for charity. Golf has helped me achieve a lot. It is a good way of meeting people and doing things for the city. Once I thought people who played golf were crazy but now it is an addiction for me. You hit one ball and it keeps you there for the rest of your life."
Pisasale, a member at Brookwater Golf and Country Club, is what is known in golfing parlance as "a burglar." For those non-golfers reading this, a burglar is someone whose handicap is much higher than it should be. The mayor plays off a handicap of 33 but - from what the QT witnessed this week when we played nine holes with him - we'd suggest something in the low 20s would be more appropriate.
"There should be a royal commission into his handicap," one of his playing partner's joked this week.
Indeed. So mayor, please explain ...
"I know they are calling me a burglar ... but I've just got natural skills," he jokes.
"I started off on 36 and I've now I'm starting to hit some good shots. I'm playing alright for 33 at the moment.
"I don't play a lot of golf and the issue is that you've got to play in the competitions to get your handicap down. But I don't want to play in comps. I just like having fun and meeting people.
"The biggest challenge for me is not the handicap. It is getting around the golf course with the same ball.
"When I first started playing it would take me 10 or 12 shots for a hole. But now I am getting pars and bogeys."
Pisasale, who plays most weeks, is no doubt a walking billboard for Ipswich ... and its mayor.
On one black and red golf shoe is the word 'Paul' and on the other we find 'Mayor'. Another set of shoes says 'Ippy'.
His golf balls, "all paid for by me personally" he adds, advertise the City of Ipswich and Mayor Paul Pisasale.
"On my other golf bag it has got 'Mayor Paul Pisasale - Ipswich.' I like to promote the city on my golf balls too. Even when I go to other clubs I like to throw the balls around so other people find them."
The mayor plays with a set of Titleist AP1 clubs. He laughs that he has "now developed a relationship" with them
"I liked the first set of clubs I was playing with, but someone told me they were female clubs. I didn't know," he says.
As for favourite stick, there is nothing female about it
"Being a male I like to get the one wood and smash it," he laughs.
"I don't mind if it goes into the bushes. People are ringing me from all over the state saying they have found my balls in the bushes. I got one back yesterday from a bloke from NSW."