Donaghadee launch Inclusive Hub for Disability golf

(l-r) Trevor Hillen (Donaghadee GC), Gareth McNeilly (Massereene GC), Rory O'Connor (Ardglass GC)

An exciting new development supporting inclusive golf has recently been established at Donaghadee Golf Club.

The Inclusive Golf Hub, the first of its kind in Ireland, has been created with the support and backing of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI). The Hub will act as a central point for disabled groups and individuals to give golf a go in a welcoming, supportive and encouraging environment.

A group of Donaghadee club members have volunteered to launch this new initiative and have been trained by CGI Participation officer, Rory Leonard, to deliver basic golf coaching.
The Hub went ‘live’ on October 16th with a group of students from Killard House Special School enjoying some fun golf coaching.

That was followed in the afternoon with another first for disabled golf in Ireland. An Irish disabled golf team featuring amongst others, the world number four ranked disabled golfer, Brendan Lawlor and the one-armed world golf champion, Cian Arthurs, took on a group of Donaghadee members in a nine-hole match-play clash.

(l-r) Valerie McIlveen, Brendan Lawler (disabled team) v Raymond Donnan, Julie Kerr (able bodied)

The driving force behind this new development is Trevor Hillen, a disabled golfer himself and a regular competitor at European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA) events. Trevor has wider ambitions to see Inclusive Golf hubs spring up across Ireland but for now, he’s focused on turning his vision into a reality in Donaghadee.

His approach is disarmingly simple: “If you tell me you are disabled and want to give golf a go, that’s good enough for me,” said Trevor.

“No matter what your disability, whether you are paralyzed from the waist down, have early stages of Alzheimer’s, whether it’s visible or hidden, this Hub will endeavour to make sure you have some fun and get a chance to play the game.

“We’ve all heard about the positive mental health and physical benefits that golf can provide.

“Maybe illness has forced you to leave golf to one side and now you want to see if you can give it a go again. The Hub will welcome the opportunity to help you take those first steps.”

The volunteers at Donaghadee, some 20 strong, have enthusiastically embraced the chance to get involved in the project. With the golf training out of the way, plans are currently underway for a series of specialised disability awareness courses to be conducted.

Trevor added; “A hub needs to have a course with the minimum of undulating terrain, an accessible clubhouse, one that is close to public transport routes and finally and probably most importantly, a willing and welcoming club membership.

“I’m proud that my own club, Donaghadee, has proved to be so open to the idea. From the club officers to the members and the club professional. Everyone has been keen to do their bit to make it work.”

If you know a group or individuals who would like to try golf please get in touch via email: disabledgolf@mail.com.



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