Manon Eggermont – Women golfers who refuse to be defined by their disability

Manon Eggermont is the Director of Tournaments for EDGA, the international organisation that helps people with a disability thrive through golf.

When overseeing a championship, Manon always has a smile and encouragement for the competitors, and understands their occasional frustrations when handing in scorecards after just failing to beat their goal of a sub-70, sub-80, or 90.

On her own scorecard, Manon is highly focused on breaking 70, but going upwards. In fact, Manon is determined to break 80 years of age, with recent birdies on her card being the once seemingly impossible arrival of her two young sons, Sébastien, in 2015, and Maxime in 2017.

Manon had first been diagnosed with a rare auto-immune condition, around ‘HLA-B27’, when aged 23. It can be distressing to live with. Complex, based around ankylosing spondylitis (AS), it can include arthritis and painful swelling in the spine, knees, other joints and the rest of the body.

Manon (right) with leading female EDGA player Daphne van Houten
Manon (right) with leading female EDGA player Daphne van Houten

Manon says: “However, once you understand that you have an auto-immune disease, you can enjoy life so much. Maybe we even enjoy the days when we can be more intensive, because we know we can’t have that every day.”

Manon grew up in the Netherlands near Rotterdam in a loving family, with parents and sister Sandra all keen golfers. She studied hard and was successful in school and college, and later put in many hours and long shifts in her growing career with a bank.

In 2012, her doctor told the then 40-year-old Manon to be prepared that she might not live past the age of 60. It was certainly a shock, but Manon had other ideas.

“From the first moment, I thought, ‘Okay, you can say it’s going to be 60, but I will show you: 70 will be a good age – for me, at least [Manon laughs here]. And I never looked back, I just thought of the opportunities. We were just so into life.”

Manon celebrates her R&A Leadership qualification
Manon celebrates her R&A Leadership qualification

The shining brightness at that time: she was pregnant with her soon-to-be-born son Sébastien, and thus the doctor’s warning focused her mind. Supported by husband Frederic, she stopped taking medication, changed her diet, and sought to have fun and more of an outdoor life.

It took a while to work well, but this new philosophy, fused with the joy of bringing up now two boys (when second son Maxime came along), are all part of a recipe that has transformed Manon’s life, making her feel better, fitter and stronger. Her recipe is complete with what she describes as “the best job ever”; her work for EDGA.

She says: “In EDGA, we are always really seeing ‘Golfers First’. That’s what we always say to everybody new: ‘First see the people, and then see the disability’.”

Manon has been a volunteer for EDGA for more than a decade and now sits on EDGA’s Board of Directors in her tournament role, which began in 2018.

Manon and sons
Manon and sons

Around this time, Manon was accepted on The R&A Women in Golf Leadership Programme. Here, she was part of a group of dynamic women in a great learning experience, and today she is registered as an R&A Women in Golf Leadership Coach.

Manon says her story perhaps reflects how positive thinking can help you succeed throughout your life.

Her biggest joy today is supporting Sébastien and Maxime as they play tennis and football. She adds: “I am enjoying life so much, I am such a proud mother and the combination with EDGA makes my life absolutely perfect.”

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