A collaboration between Golf Ireland and the Disabled and Inclusion Golf Association sees Hilton Templepatrick host the first golf event for golfers with disabilities on Sunday.
This is a unique opportunity for golfers of all levels to access the game from a social level and Carol Brill, who is a member of DIGA, says it’s a sport that everyone should try.
The Dundrum native has Usher Syndrome and is desperate to raise awareness about the rare genetic disease while showing others that they can still play a sport competitively, no matter their circumstances.
“I was just researching for myself because my daughter went into first class so she was spending longer in the school,” said Brill.
“I was going to find a hobby for myself and I said I would find a hobby for visually impaired because there is not a lot of stuff out there for people with my kind of condition. I wanted to see what can I do.
“Up came golf and I found out they were running a clinic for Irish blind golfers up in Leopardstown. I just thought I will go up and see what this is like. It’s up the road, I might as well go and check it out.
“I went up to Leopardstown and met everyone there. I became hooked on golf and absolutely loved it. Even though I was crap to start off with but we all have to start somewhere.”
Brill began playing properly in 2016 and she had come a long way from the young girl who began wearing hearing aids when she was just four after her mother realised she was lip-reading.
She still hadn’t reached her teens when her parents were told she was also blind, it could have been a huge uphill struggle from there but Brill looked for answers in difficult times.
“There was no connection made between the hearing loss and sight loss. I found out myself about my sight loss when I was 21. I thought I was just a clumsy short-sighted teenager growing up,” said Brill.
“When I was told it all made sense. So I did a bit more research, I wanted to know what was happening to me. Then I discovered there was a link between my hearing and sight loss. Hence I went on the road trying to get a proper diagnosis of Usher Syndrome.
“It was genetically confirmed about five or six years ago. It has been a bit of a journey trying to get a proper diagnosis. That tends to be case for lots of people with rare disease in Ireland.
“That was my journey and my sight now has slowly deteriorated over the years.”
After her initial forays onto the golf course it was about seven years ago when she began to take the game serious and she went to get lessons.
As any new golfer knows, it was a slow process going through the gears but she eventually found a home at Stackstown Golf Club thanks to her golf guide, Theresa Schutte.
Brill is an accomplished golfer now and she encourages anyone with a disability to give the game a try, while she knows the wonderful work DIGA are doing in conjunction with Golf Ireland.
“This year we are doing a membership recruitment drive with DIGA,” said Brill.
“We are trying to go all over the country, we want to meet new members. Nobody has to have a classification or medical certificate. We will welcome golfers with all sorts of disabilities and they don’t have to be playing off scratch. It’s all abilities.
“But we will also welcome people who are recovering from or living with a serious health issues. When we are playing our golf there will be an extra bit of time between the tee times just to make sure people are getting a good game of golf and just need that bit of patience and support and comradery and understanding to help them get out and play the game.”
You can find out more and book your place in Sunday’s event here.
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