A trio of Wales-based PGA Professionals are leading the way when it comes to disabled coaching.
Mike Davies, Anthony Middleton and Dave Pocock were recently recognised by the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme for their contribution at grassroots level.
And Craig Thomas, who is lead coach at the ISPS Handa Academy, hopes their efforts will inspire other PGA pros to enrol on a special day long workshop designed to equip them with the skills to coach a range of people with disabilities.
“We’ve already had more than 300 pros take the workshop and it’s given a new dimension to their coaching as well as huge benefits for disabled people who see golf as much more accessible,” said Thomas who is a PGA Advanced Professional.
“Mike, Anthony and Dave are great examples of the impact that PGA pros can have on the lives of people through golf, particularly those who are disabled and who might have thought golf was beyond them.
“As these coaches have shown, disability is no barrier and has all kinds of positive outcomes for those that get involved.”
The three pros, Davies from Glyn Abbey Golf & Country Club in Camarthenshire, Pocock from Bryn Meadows Golf, Hotel & Spa and Middleton of Rhyl Golf Club have all had a huge impact in their respective communities and received special recognition awards from ISPS Handa’s Midori Miyazaki and The PGA’s joint chief operating officer Robert Maxfield during the gala dinner at Celtic Manor on the eve of the Wales Open.
Pocock, who has recently jointed Bryn Meadows, previously set up the Valleys Golf Enterprise where he was targeted by the sport development team in Caerphilly and from a standing start of no children broke through the 100 barrier taking part in coaching every week.
His passion and commitment also saw him run mainstream and disability holiday golf programmes while he worked closely with the 5×60 project, Disability InSport project and many other disability sporting events as well as within Trinity Fields Special Needs School.
“Dave’s passion and commitment over the last year has had a massive effect on so many people,” said Zoё Thacker, golf development officer for South Wales.
Davies was also praised by Thacker who described him as a “fantastic ambassador for the sport of golf.”
His Glyn Abbey club enjoys close ties with schools in the local area, both mainstream and special needs, and over a three year period he has coached or provided opportunity for nearly 1000 children and adults.
In 2013 Davies, who also coaches the Special Olympics team, boosted his skills by being trained as one of the Golf Development Wales Inclusive coaches. It helped secure £1000 funding to develop disability golf at the club which will see his staff trained in a specifically designed deaf awareness course.
He also set up a special needs golf event, supported by Golf Development Wales, Disability Sport Wales and the Ray Gravell Trust, which saw 140 young people given the chance to play golf and also took golf to 10 special needs schools which included a total of 100 children over a 10 week period who were then invited (along with families and carers) to continue coaching at the club.
Like his two colleagues, Middleton is active across the community, teaching at two special educational need schools, teaching at a mental health institute and is currently going through Disability Sport Wales insport Club accreditation for the Ribbon Award.
The PGA www.pga.info
ISPS Handa www.ispsgolf.com