Disabled Golfers Wow in Wales
TV presenters Dan Walker and Gethin Jones (above with Tony Lloyd) gained an insight into disabled coaching at a special ISPS Handa clinic on the eve of the Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
The pair, along with defending champion Gregory Bourdy, were put through their paces when they tried hitting balls blindfolded and also attempted to use one of the specially adapted long drivers for short-armed golfer Tony Lloyd.
“It was a great experience,” said Bourdy. “It’s very difficult to hit good shots with the long club, and with the blindfold also.
“It is amazing that these guys can hit it so well with a long club. I missed the ball three times in a row and with the last go, I only just hit it.”
Craig Thomas, the PGA Professional who spearheads the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme, took the opportunity to explain the work of ISPS which helps train PGA pros to bring golf to people with a range of disabilities.
“The ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme is making a real difference to hundreds of disabled golfers,” said Thomas.
“Having specially trained PGA pros makes a huge difference while the impact of golf in terms of the social and physical well-being it brings can’t be over emphasised.
“Today was a great chance to showcase the strides we are making and I think Dan (Walker), Gethin (Jones) and Gregory (Bourdy) were amazed at just how well some of the disabled golfers play.”
Among the golfers taking part in the clinic was South African-based Irishman James Hourigan, who had both legs amputated below the knee after a car accident five years ago.
“Golf has taught me that I’m still able but just in a different way,” he said. ”Golf has taught me you can still compete but in a different way.
“With hard work I’m down to a three handicap at the moment and I’m busy preparing for the World Disabled Championships in Japan.”
Short-armed golfer, Tony Lloyd, who uses specially adapted clubs placed under his armpit, added: “Golf has changed my life, I used to be all about team sports but with golf I’ve found you can push yourself, challenge yourself and if it goes wrong there’s no-one to blame but yourself.
“With specially made clubs from Titleist it has taken me from disabled to enabled, and my handicap is now down to 12.
“I’ve been taking lessons with Craig, and it’s really helped me. He swings the club like I do to get a better understanding and through the lessons I’ve lost three or four shots off my handicap.”
To date more than 300 PGA pros have undertaken the week long workshop to equip them with specialist skills to coach disabled golfers and have given more than 3,000 lessons.
Three of those pros, Mike Davies (Glynn Abbey), Dave Pocock (Bryn Meadows) and Anthony Middleton (Rhyl) received special recognition awards at a gala dinner at Celtic Manor last night in recognition of their efforts in growing disabled golf.
Also honoured was 14-year-old Jordan Rosser, who suffers with a range of neuro and physical problems, but volunteers on a number of golf inclusive projects.