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17 October 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
   
   

UK DISABLED GOLF UNITES AT THE SHIRE LONDON

  • Multiple organisations come together for disabled golf demonstration event
  • The Shire London introduces new disabled golf-friendly initiatives

BARNET, NORTH LONDON – One of London’s most prominent golf clubs has announced a series of measures to attract more golfers with disabilities, after a demonstration event in which able-bodied golfers competed equally against golfers with both physical and intellectual disabilities.

On Monday 8th October, 140 Hertfordshire schoolchildren and members of The Shire London joined golfers representing Special Olympics GB and the Disabled Golf Society, for a unique nine-hole golf event.

While the children played SNAG Golf on The Shire’s beginner-level Ballesteros Challenge Course, a 40-person, 10-team golf tournament took place on the back nine of the championship-quality Ballesteros Masters Course. In each team were golfers with a variety of disabilities representing SOGB and DGS, as well as able-bodied golf club members.

“We wanted to bring together some of the inspirational people involved in disabled golf in the UK” said event organiser Cae Menai Davis, a professional golfer based at The Shire London who has set up The Golf Trust as a vehicle to promote inclusivity in the sport.

“We created The Golf Trust Unity Day, hosted by The Shire London, to get these key people together,” he said. “There are a lot of shared objectives across the organisations involved in UK disabled golf, and it was good to see our guests on the day find areas of common ground which they can work on together. We hope that this will inspire other UK golf clubs to run similar all-ability events in the future.”

The Shire London has subsequently announced a package of measures to encourage golfers with disabilities to play its Seve Ballesteros-designed golf course, including:

  • Over 40% off 7-Day Membership for registered disabled golfers, until June 1st 2013
  • 33% off ½-hour golf lessons with Shire London PGA professional Chris Whitelegg
  • And Member Guest Rates for green fee paying disabled golfers

The event was won by a team headed by Disabled Golf Society campaigner Stan Bembenek, who lost a leg to cancer. “The Special Olympics GB athletes and The Shire London members and staff were all ultra-cooperative, and joined in with the inclusive spirit of the day. We hope to establish a London Disabled Open golf tournament in 2013, and The Shire would be the perfect venue.” Bembenek, a 21-handicap golfer who balances on one leg to swing the club, also won the individual event with 22 points for the nine holes. His organisation the Disabled Golf Society runs dozens of events each year across the UK events for golfers with all types of disability.

The global Special Olympics golf programme began in 1988, with the assistance of the PGA of America and the USGA, and golf has been a featured sport within Special Olympics GB for over a decade. The programme, which offers five levels of play for athletes with different golf abilities, is for both children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It has grown to include over 30,000 athletes in 25 international programmes.

“It was a great day for Special Olympics Great Britain athletes,” said Emily Onley, Sport and Services Manager at Special Olympics GB. “Not only did they have the chance to play on such a prestigious golf course, but they were also welcomed into the golf club community with open arms. We made many new contacts at this event and we hope that, moving forward, we can build on the ideas and continue to develop more golfing opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability within Special Olympics GB.”

Bobbie Wright, a Special Olympics GB golfer who played in the winning team, said: “I enjoyed all of it! It was great, the golf course was lovely, the views were nice and the people in general were all really friendly and we had a good laugh."

“The day reminded me to appreciate some of the little things in life,” said Shire London member Floyd Johnson. “From playing with golfers with disabilities today, I can see that the right attitude and focus can enable you to overcome most situations and challenges if you really want to. The experience was humbling and educational, and something I will treasure always.”

ComGolf founder and The Golf Trust co-founder Frank Harrington also represents entry-level golf training scheme SNAG (Start New At Golf). He said: “Today was a superb celebration of the often forgotten inclusive values of golf, at the most welcoming course we’ve ever worked with. Coaching 140 kids on one fairway of the Ballesteros Challenge Course should show others the potential of SNAG as a tool for growing the game, and hopefully The Shire London's enthusiastic support of community outreach will encourage other courses to do the same – and to get more people into golf.”

Also represented on the day was Hertfordshire County Council, which sent a film crew to take footage to promote the work of its Health & Wellbeing Board, which will encourage the county’s communities to take up a healthier lifestyle in 2013. Richard Roberts, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Hertfordshire CC said: “The filming we did at The Shire London will be used to help to inspire others, as we try to encourage the sporting and not so sporting to get involved and stay active!”

“Golf is growing as a sporting discipline for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Nadine Morris, Golf Consultant to Special Olympics GB. “We were honoured to be invited to this event at The Shire London, and hope that it will open up more opportunities for more people all of abilities to take up golf”

“We will definitely be doing this again at The Shire London,” concluded Cae Menai Davis. “It is vital that work continues to promote inclusivity throughout golf in the UK.”

Ends.

 
   
   

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call or email Andy Hiseman on +44 (0)1226 781000 / andy@hiseman.com

 
     
Media Contact:

Andy Hiseman, Hiseman Limited
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Web: www.hiseman.com

 
     
     
At The Shire London / The Golf Trust

Cae Menai Davis, cae@theshirelondon.com, +44 (0)20 8441 7649
The Shire London, St Albans Rd, Barnet, Herts EN5 4RE, United Kingdom
Web: www.theshirelondon.com

 

 

 
At ComGolf / SNAG Golf: Frank Harrington, Nigel Lawrence
Email: frank.harrington@comgolf.org
 
     
     
At Special Olympics GB:

Emily Onley, Sport and Services Manager
+44 (0)207 247 8891 (extn 212), emily.onley@sogb.org.uk
Nadine Morris, Golf Consultant
nadine@specialolympicsintl.com
Web: www.sogb.org.uk

 

 

 
At The Disabled Golf Society: Stanley Bembenek
Email: stanbembenek@hotmail.co.uk
Web: www.disabledgolfsociety.com
 
     
     
At Hertfordshire County Council:

Dee de Bruin, Senior Communications Officer
+44 (0)1992 555791, Dee.DeBruin@hertfordshire.gov.uk
Web: www.hertsdirect.org/hwb

 
     
     
EXTENDED COMMENTS FROM PARTICIPANTS AND OFFICIALS


FROM PARTICIPANTS

" Awesome to play on such a great course, and to get a birdie on a par 3!"
Ricky Moran, North West, Special Olympics GB athlete

" Enjoyed going in the buggy! It was good fun and I’d like to come back any time."
George Brunt, West Mids, Special Olympics GB athlete

" It was good, I played well and enjoyed it. I liked it all!"
William Cottrell, South East, Special Olympics GB athlete

“ I enjoyed all of it! It was great, the golf course was lovely, the views were nice and the people in general were all really friendly and we had a good laugh."
Bobbie Wright, North West, Special Olympics GB athlete

" I played well, and enjoyed meeting new people. I would like to play here again soon. Good to be part of a team!"
Mikael Undrum, South East, Special Olympics GB athlete

“ I just wanted to thank Cae and The Shire London team for such a fantastic and inspirational day on Monday. Getting the opportunity to make, meet and spend such quality time with some new friends and acquaintances was a pleasure, humbling and educational and something I'll treasure always. Seeing and listening to Cae talk and act with so much passion/commitment for the cause, makes me truly believe that The Golf Trust will be a great success, and will make a big difference to the lives of a number of people who may otherwise be or feel excluded – or worse still not even considered ‘mainstream’ due to their disabilities. Something I'll strive to not fall foul of again! The day helped me remember to appreciate some of the simple/little things in life. When faced with challenges, the right attitude and focus can enable you to overcome most situations (if you really want to). This really came across from all the disabled participants on the day! Once again, thanks for giving me the opportunity to participate and share in such a fantastic and important day. Best wishes for the future and please pass on my sincere thanks to all.”
Floyd Johnson, Member, The Shire London

FROM OFFICIALS

“ It was a great day for Special Olympics Great Britain Athletes to have the chance to not only play on such a prestigious course, but to be welcomed into The Shire community with open arms. We were all looked after extremely well throughout the day, and despite buckets of rain, everyone still had a great time and it was in general just an amazing opportunity for the Athletes who took part. Special Olympics GB is very privileged to have been invited take part in this event. The organisers as well as the volunteers on the day did a brilliant job in pulling the event together, so our thanks goes out to them! Many new contacts were also made at this event and we hope that moving forward, we can build on the ideas and continue to develop more golfing opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability within Special Olympics GB”
Emily Onley, Sport and Services Manager, Special Olympics GB
emily.onley@sogb.org.uk
Tel: 0207 247 8891 (extension 212)
Mobile: 0797 214 2754

“ We are enjoying the growth of golf as a sporting discipline for people with intellectual disabilities. We were honoured to be invited to this event at The Shire London, and see Special Olympics golfers taking part. It is also excellent to be part of the introduction of SNAG, which will open up more opportunities for more people all of abilities to take up golf”
Nadine Morris, Golf Consultant, Special Olympics GB
nadine@specialolympicsintl.com
Mobile: +44 (0)7710 232454

“ The Shire hosted an amazing day which brought together many inspirational people. The day involved golfers from The Special Olympics, Disabled Golf Society and The Shire London playing in teams together which showcased the inclusive nature of golf. At The Shire London we are proud to be a venue which is very welcoming to players and families. The golf course held great through the weather and all golfers thoroughly enjoyed the challenge provided. Peoples’ eyes were opened to the world outside the norm, and the day had an impact on a lot of people. The game of golf can bring together people from all walks of life to enjoy together. The Shire London is all about breaking barriers and moving the game forward – this event in conjunction with The Golf Trust, Special Olympics and The Disabled Golf Society proved to be a benchmark for future events and we hope to work together more in the future to grow the game of golf and bring people together.”
Cae Menai Davis, Event Organiser, The Golf Trust and The Shire London
cae@theshirelondon.com
Tel: +44 (0)20 8441 7649
Mobile: +44 (0)7736 246294

“ The day was brilliant despite the rain. Organisation was excellent and The Shire London is one of the most friendly golf clubs l have ever been to. The Shire London members who accompanied DGS and Special Olympics players were ultra-friendly and quick to support us. Cae planned the day exceptionally well, and I look forward to staging the first London Disabled Open tournament there next year! Three cheers to Cae, his family and The Shire London club members for their dedicated support today.”
Stan Bembenek, Vice President and Director, Disabled Golf Society
stanbembenek@hotmail.co.uk
Mobile: +44 (0)7785 270322

“ Today was a superb celebration of the often forgotten inclusive values of golf. The Shire London is the most welcoming golf course we've yet worked with. The club made everybody feel welcome – especially the school children, many of whom had never seen a golf course before and wouldn't have got the opportunity to do so otherwise. I think the day really opened peoples’ eyes to how we can get everyone involved in the sport. Coaching over 120 kids on a single fairway of the Ballesteros Challenge Course should show others the potential of SNAG as a tool for growing the game. Hopefully The Shire London's enthusiastic support of community outreach will encourage other golf courses to do the same and get more people into golf.”
Frank Harrington, ComGolf / SNAG Golf
frank.harrington@comgolf.org

“ Hertfordshire was delighted to be able to film some of the Shire London Golfers representing Special Olympics GB and the Disabled Golf Society. During this great sporting year for able and disabled athletes, Hertfordshire has been pulling together the priorities for Health and Wellbeing: not surprisingly, enjoyable physical activity is right up there. The filming we did on the day will help to inspire others as we try to encourage the sporting and not-so-sporting to get involved and stay active."
Richard Roberts, Lead Member for Children’s Services, Hertfordshire County Council

“ The Health and Wellbeing priorities for Hertfordshire are currently being agreed and we aim to develop some brief film footage for web and presentation purposes, to profile the work of the Board and encourage communities to take up a healthier lifestyle. The golf event was well timed for us to highlight current activities taking place that support the disabled in participating in physical activity, which alongside healthy lifestyles, is one of the Board's key priorities.”
Dee de Bruin, Senior Communications Officer, Hertfordshire County Council
Dee.DeBruin@hertfordshire.gov.uk

 
   
   
NOTES FOR EDITORS

About The Shire London
www.the shirelondon.com

The Shire London is a 27-hole facility featuring the only Seve Ballesteros designed golf course in the UK. Its 18-hole Ballesteros Masters Course measures 7,028 yards, with six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s. Its 9-hole Ballesteros Challenge Course features a mix of par 3s and 4s, and is the ideal introduction to golf for all ages and abilities. The Shire Academy is one of the leading teaching centres in the south of England, and with the tranquil setting of the golf course, first class conference rooms and a top-rated restaurant, The Shire London is also a well-equipped and popular venue for golf societies, corporate golf days, conferencing and banqueting.

About The Golf Trust
www.facebook.com/thegolftrust

The Golf Trust, based at The Shire London, is setting out to grow participation in golf by showcasing the inclusive nature of the game, for example by integrating able-bodied golfers and golfers with disabilities in the same golf events. Focusing on the social, physical and mental aspects of life, The Golf Trust aims to bring people together from all areas of life to play. Working in partnership with the outreach programme of ComGolf, The Golf Trust aims to reach people who would never play golf, and to give them the opportunity to progress as players and people.

About Special Olympics GB
www.specialolympicsgb.org.uk

Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities (also known as learning disabilities) across the country. The year-round sports coaching and events provided by Special Olympics in Great Britain are clinically proven to positively change the quality of lives for their 8,000 registered athletes. Nearly 1.2 million people in Great Britain (2% of the population) have intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics is a global organisation that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to nearly 4 million children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities in almost 200 countries. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late President John F Kennedy, Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to realise their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience friendship. Special Olympics is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the third member of the Olympic family. It is the only sports organisation authorised by the IOC to use the word ‘Olympics’ in its title.

About The Disabled Golf Society
www.disabledgolfsociety.com

The Disabled Golf Society promotes disabled golf throughout England, and aims to help disabled golfers have a more enjoyable experience. We aim to bring together all disabled golfers, irrespective of gender, age or ability, and to help them enjoy golf on a level playing field (or, in our case, golf course). Via our website we offer a variety of services including tournaments; independent golfing breaks; handicapping; ordering any specialist equipment; special discounts; and help with booking tee times. The Disabled Golf Society organises tournaments throughout the year in England, on courses which have been pre-vetted and can accommodate the special needs of our members. In addition to our 9 and 18 hole tournaments, we also organise Par 3, Pitch and Putt and 3 club competitions. All competitions are uploaded to the website, which provides information about the tournament, the course and costs.

About ComGolf
Contact frank.harrington@comgolf.org

ComGolf is a golf outreach programme that focuses on increasing participation and promoting the health benefits of golf. The project was formed in 2011 as the Orchid Community Golf Programme, based in St Barts Hospital as part of the male cancer charity Orchid’s Sports & Education programme. ComGolf engages children and young people in a healthy low impact sport whilst raising awareness of the dangers of males cancers and the benefits diet and exercise can have on reducing cancers. ComGolf uses SNAG golf equipment to transform schools, parks, leisure centres and other community spaces into golf facilities where everyone can participate. The project has expanded to work with over 6000 participants across London and the South East region as well as providing golf activities in the Olympic boroughs during the London 2012 games.

About SNAG Golf
www.snageurope.com

SNAG (Start New at Golf) is the innovative, first touch golf coaching system which has dramatically improved access to golf in the UK, USA, Korea and Japan. It can help encourage retention rates as it is fun and easy to use. SNAG equipment provides the perfect introduction to how to play golf, helping to build up skills and confidence before playing the full game. SNAG® contains all the elements of golf games but in a modified form. The game has its own simplified rules and terminology that adds fun to the learning and playing experience. SNAG® allows for full shots, pitching, chipping, and putting. SNAG® is easy to learn, and it's easy to teach. It's a comprehensive system that has been developed through years of research and field experience. The key is in simplifying the instruction so that it can be an effective transition into the game of golf. The concept of creating an easier way to learn golf rather than using traditional equipment, came about when two ex-USPGA tour players got together and agreed to create this range of products. All of the attributes and details of conventional golf have been taken into consideration and included in the design of the whole product range.

About Hertfordshire County Council’s Health & Wellbeing Board
www.hertsdirect.org/hwb

The NHS White Paper 'Liberating the NHS' first outlined the Government's plans to increase democratic accountability and the public voice in health. It proposed the creation of statutory Health and Wellbeing Boards, a duty on councils to commission Local Healthwatch in each local authority area, and the strengthening of scrutiny powers in relation to health services. The aim of the Hertfordshire Health & Wellbeing Board is to make health and social care planning and decision making everyone's business. Its aims include:

  • Development, interpretation and use of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) to shape commissioning and spending plans
  • Development and agreement of a health and wellbeing strategy
  • Consideration of commissioning plans for health and social care
  • Agreement of joint commissioning plans and oversight of performance against outcomes