The Golf Union of Wales have become one of the first sports governing bodies in Wales to earn an insport Silver Award for their work in making the sport more inclusive for disabled people.
The benefits show with a doubling of the number of club members with a disability this year, compared to previous figures, with 22 hubs round Wales working with around a third more people with disabilities.
The award is thanks to work from Golf Development Wales bringing disabled people into golf and making the game more inclusive, building on being the first sports governing body in Wales to earn the bronze award.
Executive Director of Disability Sport Wales, Jon Morgan, said, “I am delighted to present Golf Union of Wales with our insport NGB Silver Standard, as one of the first governing bodies in Wales to come through the programme.
“There is some really innovative work being done with disabled golfers and to support disabled people into coaching and other roles and it’s clear Golf are putting inclusion at the heart of the sport.
“Discovering the full potential of inclusive golf is an exciting prospect and one I look forward to sharing.”
Golf Union of Wales National Youth Panel member Jordan Rosser also won the Golf Foundation Burroughs Disability Award this year. 16-year-old Jordan is an ASQ Level 1 qualified coach, plays off a handicap of 15 and was also part of the GUW insport Silver presentation.
“We are delighted to receive the Silver Award, building on our success with the bronze award last year,” said Golf Union of Wales development director Hannah McAllister. “Inclusion is not just something that should happen, it needs to happen for the survival of our sport.
“Naturally the aim is to become the first sports governing body in Wales to earn the Gold Award and to show golf can be fully inclusive as a sport.
“There are so many advantages to golf as a sport for life, showing it can truly be a sport for all as well and is now a key part of our targets going forward.
“Golf is well suited to benefit from the changes brought in to make the sport more inclusive, the average age of avid golfers is around 60 and about two in five of people over 60 have a general disability.”
The insport Silver Award is earned by such things as working towards developing inclusive strands in all coach education, to promote disability training in current coach education, provide courses for staff and clubs and identifying and supporting clubs within the sport working towards inclusive accreditation.
The first equality Golf audit in Wales showed only 8 per cent of club members with a disability, while this year’s audit showed 16 per cent. The numbers in disability hubs around Wales have gone up from 306 in 2014 to 411 in 2015. These are facilities with specific inclusive equipment, an inclusive trained PGA professional who provides inclusive, pan disability, or impairment specific coaching.
One example is the New2Golf beginner scheme for blind or visually impaired people run by PGA club professional Nicola Stroud at Pennard.
The club ran taster sessions, adapted the rules to introduce people to the sport, including guide dogs, equipment and guides. The success of the scheme was shown by around half the participants in the taster sessions joining Pennard, while the other half joined other clubs.
There are around 50 club professionals around Wales who have achieved Disability Inclusive Training Level 1. There are 11 clubs in Wales who have achieved the insport Ribbon Award, with 21 more applications in progress.
The R and A adapted rules will be implemented in some of the GUW Championships for 2017 and are already in place for the GUW Junior Golf Tour, so there are more competitive opportunities for beginners to participate. Sessions at GUW coaching centres can also be adapted for individuals with a disability.
Picture of Golf Development chair Hannah Mawson, left, and Golf Union of Wales development director Hannah McAllister, right, receiving the insport Silver Award from Disabilty Sport Wales executive director Jon Morgan