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(Article was written by Jamie Blair - Diversity & Inclusion Manager at England Golf)
England Golf has marked International Day of People with Disabilities by re-affirming its commitment to promoting golf as an inclusive game for all.
Ingrained in England Golf’s Course Planner – the governing body’s strategic plan for the next four years – is the ethos of making sure that impairment of any kind is not a barrier to participation at affiliated golf clubs and facilities.
The theme for today’s International Day of People with Disabilities – as confirmed by the United Nations – is “leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
England Golf is proud to be at the vanguard of such a movement in our game and committed to making strides in the future.
“The Course Planner sets out our commitment to making the game more inclusive and accessible with specific actions around including disabled people,” admitted Jamie Blair, England Golf’s diversity and inclusion manager.
“Through our increased engagement directly with all golfers, we want to ensure they have the opportunity to provide feedback, sharing why they play.
“At the same time, we want to ensure that we are providing support to clubs, counties and golfers where we need to, in order to keep those already involved in the game playing.
“England Golf is committed to lead on this and work closely with industry colleagues who also share our values.
“For example, the Golf Foundation has recently set out their commitments to widening the reach of the game within schools and for young people, giving disabled people more choice and opportunity to get involved in our great sport.”
At grassroots level, the drive to offer a pathway into the game is gathering momentum as can be evidenced in Kent and Hertfordshire – counties that are representative of similar efforts going on all over the country.
In Kent, county officials have helped co-ordinate hubs for golfers with a disability at Kings Hill and Stonelees golf clubs.
There are plans to roll this out at four new sites in 2022 with the county actively recruiting for volunteers to help with their ambitious programmes.
Kent, of course, has a fantastic local role model to inspire any budding golfer with a disability.
The 2021 winner of the English Open for Golfers with a Disability was Kent county player Kipp Popert (pictured above).
The 23-year-old enjoyed a stellar season on the main amateur circuit as well as playing around Europe in various European Disabled Golfers’ Association events attached to the professional European Tour, winning the Hero Open at St Andrews.
In the future, plus-three handicapper Popert – who has adapted his game to cope with cerebral palsy affecting his lower body – aims to turn professional.
In Hertfordshire, county officials and volunteers have recently accessed funding established prior to the pandemic in order to support local projects promoting disabled participation in golf.
The county progressively works with those members of the community living with Parkinson’s and recovering from strokes as well as those at school experiencing the game for the first time.
Disability engagement is at the heart of Hertfordshire’s county programme and supported by the county’s development officer.
England Golf will continue to work to make sure there is pathway into golf for anyone who wants to find it through our clubs and counties.
In addition, at many non-affiliated practice facilities, TopGolf are providing even more choice and entry points for the public to get active in golf.