The Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn, was the guest at a unique golf festival in Sheffield where more than 60 children from local schools with a range of special needs or behavioural problems enjoyed a day of golfing activity at Birley Wood Golf Club. The day highlighted the work carried out all year round by PGA professional and golf development officer for Sheffield City Council, Pete Ball.
Pete Ball has been a successful golf coach at all levels of the game. His passion is to help children – some with special needs, others autistic, some troubled young offenders – through golf sessions. The sport’s simple disciplines seem to have a strong effect on the Sheffield youngsters taking part and local teachers are bringing groups every day to Birley Wood to experience Pete’s unique brand of play, fun and work on the golf course.
Employed by the city council, Pete Ball also receives funding from the Golf Foundation, a charity that is committed to the sporting and social development of young people through golf. Through this link, Pete has been working with Sheffield’s local sports partnerships in schools to introduce golf. He uses Golf Foundation Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme equipment to enthuse children of all abilities and helps the Foundation as it trains volunteers to be able to deliver Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme in all the area’s schools.
The Foundation invited Richard Caborn along to experience at first hand the children playing golf skills games and then playing mini holes of golf at the Birley Wood facility. Birley Wood Golf Course is operated by Sheffield International Venues and Pete is employed by Activity Sheffield, Sheffield City Council. Three holes of the 21 at Birley Wood are always available for the coaching of youngsters from all backgrounds and Pete Ball has an open-door policy for junior golfers who want to develop their golf skills.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “This was a really well run day by Pete, our development officer for the area John Wood, teachers from local schools and volunteers. It helped to show just how much these children get out of golf and also Pete’s coaching and I’m sure Mr Caborn was impressed to find out more about this fantastic local scheme.
“Along with physical skills, golf helps to promote positive values like co-operation, respect, honesty, self-motivation and concentration, and all the children under Pete’s wing will gain some benefit from the sessions.”
Richard Caborn spoke of the “excellent work” going forward at Birley Wood. He added, “It’s great to see these youngsters getting so much out of golf.” He also made reference to the good work being done by the Golf Foundation within the England Golf Partnership alongside the English Golf Union, English Ladies’ Golf Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association.
There were more than 10,000 visits by youngsters to Birley Wood during the last year. Apart from the Golf Foundation’s additional support, Pete would also like to hear from potential sponsors to ensure the long-term future of the scheme.
Pete Ball said, “There is now such demand from special schools in the area to enjoy this facility that there are sometimes not enough hours in the day! We want to build on what has been achieved here and any further support would be greatly appreciated.”
John Wood, regional development officer for the Golf Foundation, said, “This is a project which everyone wants to see continue to succeed. All present got so much out of the day and I’d like to give particular thanks to volunteers from Sheffield Hallam University for their great support and also the staff at the adjacent Fairway Inn, who put on a free lunch for all the children and staff. We are hugely grateful.”
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org