Deaf and hard of hearing players have taken up golf thanks to a new initiative by Golf Development Wales and the Vale Golf Resort and Spa, which is set to be rolled out across Wales.
The scheme has attracted over 14 beginners to coaching at the club near Cardiff, while they also hosted the Deaf 4 Nations Cup with more than 40 players from around the UK competing and staying at the resort.
It is the first of a planned 20 inclusive golf hubs around Wales by 2015, providing quality sessions to disabled people within their communities. This is part of the New Golf Development Community Strategy supported by Sport Wales and Disability Sport Wales.
Golf Development Wales have recently achieved the Disability Sport Wales insport Ribbon award, one of the first in Wales, and are working towards bronze standards.
The insport programme is a 4 stage award programme, designed to provide more opportunities for disabled people in sport, in terms of participation, coaching, volunteering, officiating and employment opportunities.
Golf Development Wales officer Zoe Thacker admitted, “When we originally set up this programme we had no idea the huge impact that it would have.
“The aim was to set up a beginner golf development programme for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in order to break down the barriers deaf people face when accessing golf
“Staff education, increased business revenue and communication at the resort has been a positive spin off. It’s been a great way for the beginners to make new friends and improve health and well-being at the same time”.
The scheme started when Wales Deaf Golf Association got involved after GDW and Disability Sport Wales set up the Inclusive Golf Forum.
Following this, the Wales Deaf Golf Association led by Sarah Lawrence, a current Welsh Deaf Golf competitor, requested support to increase the number of people able to access golf and who could one day compete in National events.
Vale Golf Resort and Spa head golf professional Clive Coombs completed the PGA Inclusive Golf Coaching workshop, sponsored by ISPS Handa, and initiated the plans to use the Vale as a hub for deaf coaching activities.
There are already 14 deaf and hard of hearing beginners receiving coaching at the club, two had so far bought new clubs and trial memberships, while 16 staff members from all sections of the resort have completed a basic deaf awareness course delivered by Sarah Lawrence from SL First Ltd who has been instrumental in the project.
Vale reception manager Emma Price said, “The Basic Sign Language training workshop was brilliant and all my staff came away and said they really enjoyed it.
“We had the guests from the ‘Deaf 4 Nations Cup’ arrive and it was great to see the staff using their basic knowledge in BSL..”
Links have been made with the National Deaf Children’s Society to expand and strengthen the programme to include junior activities and education programmes.
If you would like to find out more about activities at the Vale or any other coaching sessions in Wales please check out the website www.golfdevelopmentwales.org to find your nearest club.
Vale Golf Resort www.vale-hotel.com