Children from six Wirral Special Schools have been learning all about golf. Their enthusiasm under expert supervision has led them to experience golf on a full-size golf course at Hoylake Municipal and enjoy membership of a thriving community golf club.
The initiative has been run by Neil Price, Wirral’s Community Golf Officer, and is supported and funded by the Golf Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme.
Neil Price explained: “The aim of the project was to engage with children with disabilities and give them a taste of golf in a safe and fun environment using special, adapted clubs. Over the course of the sessions the children learned numerous skills and techniques such as how to hold the club correctly, putting the ball into hoops and chipping balls onto targets.”
The youngsters were able to use Golf Foundation Tri-Golf equipment, which is ideal for chipping and putting games and team activity.
Following the initial taster sessions in their schools, 34 enthusiastic children were invited to Leasowe Leisure Centre where they took part in a Fun Day, competing in Tri-Golf games around a small three-hole course together with pop-up trees and bunkers.
Neil Price said: “The children really enjoyed their school sessions and loved the competitive edge of the Fun Day. They said they wanted to attend an actual golf venue and we booked time at Hoylake Municipal Golf Club. Here, PGA Professional Simon Hooton delivered coaching sessions for the children and took them around the course, showing them many aspects such as the water hazards, putting greens and bunkers. This was a fantastic experience for the boys and girls.”
For the finale to the project the children were then invited to attend a session at ‘Club TG’, Wirral’s only golf club aimed specifically for 5 to 12 year olds, held at Kings Parade in New Brighton. Here they used all their new skills to play the specially adapted nine-hole par three course.
Membership of Club TG was then offered to those children who wanted to continue to learn more about golf and take part in further competitions.
Typically for a Golf Foundation project, a close working relationship with PGA Professional Simon Hooton has been possible. The Professional Golfers’ Association is a strong supporter of the charity’s work to bring more youngsters into the game.
Andy Leigh, North West Regional Development Officer for the Golf Foundation, said: “Neil has led this project really well from the start. It is exciting that we have been able to introduce golf to SEN and disabled youngsters, assess what they needed in order to enjoy their golf and also to introduce them to competitive game formats. Taking this a stage further to community golf competition and a day at Hoylake Municipal Golf Club is a great result for all involved. A big thank you again to Simon Hooton for helping us.”
The Golf Foundation supported the Wirral project with discretionary funding. On a national level, the Golf Foundation is working with the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England to improve golf’s offering for disabled youngsters in schools and the community.
As part of the YST’s ‘Project Ability’ initiative, the Golf Foundation is creating a new resource that will show PE teachers how golf can be used more inclusively for special educational needs (SEN)/disabled youngsters in primary and secondary schools. This resource will be included in the subsequent training of teachers as part of a three-year disability development plan by the Golf Foundation.
HSBC Golf Roots and the Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org