Dave Kirkham

Dozens of people with a wide range of disabilities gathered at Southport Golf Academy to sample the sport under the guidance of professional golfers and the Disabled Golf Association (DGA).

The free ‘taster day’ yesterday (Thursday, 22nd June 2023), marked the accreditation of the Academy by the DGA as North West’s official centre for Disabled Golf.

Leading international golfer, Dave Kirkham, a double amputee, who represents Team England for the DGA, was one of those on hand to encourage those who have never tried the game to pick up a club and engage with the sport.

Before teeing off to mark the start of the day’s golf, Dave said: “I have thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed every game I have played. My life has become more fulfilled, my mental health has improved, and my home life has improved. I also became more understanding of other people’s disabilities. I am here, today, to give encouragement to other people. It’s not the end of everything, it’s the beginning.”

Prospective golfers who attended the day included MS sufferers, young adults with learning difficulties, individuals recovering from spinal injuries and people with hidden disabilities including autism, Parkinson’s Disease and dementia.

MS sufferer, Ian Cunningham, was one of those who came to the event to find out more. He said: “I have learned today that golf is accessible to everyone no matter whether you are in a chair or not. I am going to try and find out more now and see how I can go about playing a proper round of golf and I’m going to the driving range to try and get out and enjoy the sport again.”

Dave Kirkham and Ian Cunningham

Dave Kirkham and Ian Cunningham

Hypnotherapist, Theresa Smith from Birkdale, also a chair user, said: “This is the first time I have been doing it and I am absolutely thrilled and I will definitely be back.”

The Academy’s status as the North West’s officially accredited DGA Centre follows intensive investment to both support disabled golfers with tailored training packages, and provide them with the facilities and access they need to enjoy the sport.

Richard Carpenter, who runs the nine-hole facility with his wife, Gail, and Professional golf coach son, James, said: “We’ve already seen the rewards that engaging with golf can offer those with disabilities and the people who support them. What we want to do now, is build on that by bringing more people and more organisations into the game.”

“This is the most rewarding part of my job,” said James. “I just love it when I see the pleasure people are getting from the sport and the happiness it brings.”

The Disabled Golf Association’s Neil Patrick said: “Southport Golf Academy has been absolutely outstanding. We would love anyone with either mental or physical disabilities to call and come down to the Centre, with a carer if they want, and have fun hitting a few balls. There’s no pressure. We just want people to enjoy themselves.”

Mark Bardsley, General Secretary of the Lancashire Union of Golf, speaking at the event, said: “I think it is fantastic when you see the range of people that are here – all able to enjoy our wonderful game. There aren’t many facilities around Lancashire which have the ability to do this. Golf is a social game, it brings people together. The facility is fantastic, but, frankly, we need more of these sorts of facilities to bring more people into our game.”

To find out more about the new accredited centre for Disabled Golf in the North West visit: www.southport-golf.co.uk

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com 

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