Tokyo-based ISPS (International Sports Promotion Society) is set to leave a lasting legacy on UK golf by funding an innovative academy programme to train PGA professionals to coach blind and disabled golfers.
This ground-breaking initiative, titled the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme, stems from the desire of founder and leading philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa for golf to become a Paralmypic sport and is launched on the back of ISPS becoming the new title sponsor of the £250,000 PGA Seniors Championship. The European Senior Tour event, which was first contested in 1957, takes place at De Vere Slaley Hall from June 7-10 and will be called the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.
Dr Handa and ISPS have supported golf at varied levels for more than 25 years, currently sponsoring a number of elite tournaments around the world, using them as a platform to promote opportunities for blind and disabled golfers.
As part of the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme, ISPS will also be providing a thousand free golf lessons for blind and disabled golfers with PGA Professionals while De Vere will take a lead role in the launch of the new initiative by committing De Vere venues and resident PGA professionals to support the scheme and by creating regional events for blind and disabled golfers culminating in a grand final at the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall.
“ISPS is pleased to be sponsoring such a prestigious tournament as the PGA Seniors Championship in the superb setting of De Vere Slaley Hall,” said Dr Haruhisa Handa.
‘‘We are especially delighted to launch the unique ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme in partnership with the PGA. Blind and disabled golfers face a number of challenges in developing their game and to be able to provide them with greater access to specialised coaching is something we are very proud of.”
The launch of the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme was welcomed by Dr Kyle Phillpots, PGA Director of Education and Career Development, who paid tribute to Dr Handa and ISPS and identified their commitment to the project as a significant milestone in helping improve coaching standards for disabled golfers in theUK.
“Many of our members already do excellent work with golfers with a range of disabilities but this is the first time we have had the opportunity to devise a specific programme for PGA professionals interested in this field,” he said.
Daniel Hodson, Golf and Leisure Director for De Vere, said: “We are delighted to welcome ISPS on board as the title sponsor and De Vere fully supports their aims to improve golfing opportunities for blind and disabled golfers.
“This is the fifth successive year that the PGA Seniors Championship has been staged at Slaley Hall and with the support of ISPS we are looking forward to another week of exciting golf.”
Andrew White, Chief Executive of WSM Communications, who brokered the sponsorship deal said: “The ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship offers a great platform for ISPS to further raise the profile of the valuable work they do in blind and disabled golf.
“The ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme is also a great partnership with the PGA providing tangible grassroots support in advancing participation and development in golf for the blind and disabled.”
Dr Handa, who is vice president at the Royal National Institute for the Blind, set up the Japanese Blind Golf Association in 1988 and was also a driving force behind the formation of the International Blind Golf Association.
ISPS is a ‘General Incorporated Association’ based inTokyo. The organization was founded by Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world.
ISPS has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf. ISPS’s heritage in supporting blind and disabled golf and Dr Handa’s commercial and philanthropic investment in golf has formed the foundation of its wider mission for golf to become a Paralympic sport. www.ispsgolf.com
(left to right) Andy Stubbs, Managing Director European Senior Tour; Sandy Jones, PGA Chief Executive; Midori Miyazaki, Executive Director of International Affairs at ISPS; Andrew White, WSM Communications Chief Executive and Daniel Hodson, Golf And Leisure Director for De Vere (photo courtesy of Adrian Milledge)