Golf-Ability attracts Devon youngsters

Youngsters at the Golf-Ability club at Padbrook Park.

Youngsters at the Golf-Ability club at Padbrook Park.

Dozens of disabled young people are taking the chance to get into golf with the help of Devon coach Stuart Disney.

So far, over 45 have taken his taster sessions and, as a result, Stuart is running a Golf-Ability club at Padbrook Park Golf Club, near Exeter, where he is the head PGA professional. It offers a series of structured coaching sessions leading to the opportunity to play on the golf course and the possibility of golf club membership.

Many more disabled young people will sample golf next Wednesday when Active Devon runs the Autumn Ability Games at Barnstaple. Already 60 school children have signed up for golf tasters and the numbers could grow. “It’s going to be awesome,” said Stuart, who will be working alongside PGA professional Tiffany MacKenzie of Saunton Golf Club.

Stuart ‘fell into’ disability golf coaching when a teacher friend asked him to run some tasters: “They were extremely hard work but the most fun-filled coaching sessions I had ever done, absolutely brilliant.

“The kids loved it, their behaviour improved through the medium of golf and the experience helped two to go on and gain employment.”

Since then he’s been supported with funding from the Devon Golf Partnership – which grows the game in the county – and has worked with Active Devon to offer tasters and the Golf-Ability opportunities to disabled young people aged 16-20.

Stuart has involved both Special Olympics Exeter, which fosters year-round community sport for those with intellectual disabilities, and CEDA, a charity which creates opportunities for disabled people in Exeter and the surrounding areas. “I have loved doing this, it’s fantastic,” said Stuart.

Jason Wood, an Active Devon development co-ordinator and former disability officer, commented: “I have watched one of Stuart’s groups and the way the youngsters respond is absolutely brilliant. They have loved the challenge on all sorts of different levels.

“This project is exciting because it’s not just about offering taster sessions, but about having an outcome. We want to see players enter a tournament or, perhaps we’ll create our own tournament, and there’s the potential for them to join a golf club.”

The Devon Golf Partnership, which brings together the men’s, women’s and professional organisations, supports the national Get into golf campaign, which inspires people to take up the sport. For information about tasters and low-cost coaching opportunities across the country visit www.getintogolf.org

The Devon Golf Partnership brings together the men’s, women’s and professionals’ county organisations to grow the game in Devon. County Golf Partnerships are part of the England Golf Partnership’s Whole Sport Plan for golf and an integral part of its vision to grow the game and make England the world’s leading golf nation by 2020. The England Golf Partnership (EGP) is a partnership between the amateur governing body, England Golf, and the Professional Golfers’ Association, and supported by the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

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