Listen to my Inclusive Golf Kildare podcast, on Episode 3 of The Golf Pro Show
Back in October 2019, Sarah Banville from Golf Ireland got in touch with me, wondering if I would be interested in taking a group of young golfers who are dealing with a variety of health impairments. from wheelchair use, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, sensory impairments, former cancer patients and more.
I can still remember walking around the large Tescos in Maynooth when Sarah first called to pitch the idea, and wondering how I would be able to manage such a group having no experience in a similar field. I was curious, and underneath confident in my ability to pull it off, as I feel I can find common ground with anyone, no matter what their circumstances. The seeds were sown in October, and the group came together in January 2023 – Kildare had its first Inclusive Golf group ready to go!
But not so fast! I needed significant training and mentor guidance, before taking on this task. In the weeks leading up to the first session, myself and those from the club who kindly volunteered to assist during the coaching sessions, got certified in Safeguarding training, Sport Inclusion & Disability Awareness, Garda vetted, and more! After a couple weeks of intense meetings and trainings to ensure we were up to scratch and ready for all possible scenarios, we started week one in February, 2023. We limited spaces to eight, ensuring participants got sufficient attention and care throughout.
This coaching has been some of the most rewarding I’ve experienced. Seeing the children enjoy the outdoors and having the chance to meet new peers, be competitive and simply be counted, is a grounding experience for all of us involved. Week one began with very simple rolling and throwing activities towards targets using tennis balls, to help everyone become familiar with the surroundings and faces. Gradually, we made our way to real golf holes and today, on week 5/6, and began using real golf balls. The progress made by all kids over a short few weeks has been outstanding and humbling to watch – most of us have little to worry about, if you’re able to get out of your car and step onto the first tee with ease!
I’m often asked whether I’d recommend others do this training/coaching, and hands-down the answer is a big “yes”. These children may not have many other physically challenging activities throughout their week, giving them this chance may be a springboard onto many great things in their lives as they grow older. I would highly recommend the Inclusive Golf programme to any school/club across Ireland, no matter what sport is involved. Golf is advantageous, being a non-contact sport set in peaceful surroundings, with the option of team competition too. If you are seeking further information, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com or get in contact with Golf Ireland, we’ll help you get started in the right direction.
The Golf Pro Show Podcast, Episode 3 is now live. I discuss the above in some detail, and will give others a good idea of what is involved. You can find The Golf Pro Show podcast on podcast platforms: Spotify, Apple, Google and more, or simply visit the channel page.
Gary Shaw Golf coaching the group of youth golfers at the Inclusive Golf Kildare, at Naas Golf Driving Range.
Have a listen, spread the word, and review the show if you have a moment. Liam Grehan (Golf Professional at The K Club) joins me on the podcast, as we take you through the life of PGA Trainee Golf Professionals. We’d love to hear from you on any of our social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook & Twitter). Thank you, Gary and Liam.