A GOLF club is opening its doors to disabled golfers, as reported in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 11 May 2013.
Longley Park Golf Club in Huddersfield is the new base for the charity British Disabled Golf.
Its aim is to encourage sportsmen and women with disabilities to take up or return to the sport.
British Disabled Golf, run by husband and wife team Kevin and Cerise Booth, of Netherton, want to make the sport more inclusive.
“Golf should be for everyone,” said Kevin, 54, who is disabled himself.
“I hate elitism and we want to provide the opportunity for everyone to play golf.”
Kevin, national co-ordinator for the charity, moved to Longley Park after the Tingley club, where it was previously based, shut down.
On the first Friday of every month the charity will hold a ‘roll up’ day when anyone can turn up, find out more and hit a few balls.
It’s not just disabled people, however, and anyone is welcome.
Kevin said: “The problem for disabled people is one of confidence. If they played golf but have become disabled through accident or illness they tend to lock themselves away.
“We want to get them out and about in friendly company and help them integrate, getting them playing with able-bodied golfers.”
Longley Park’s facilities need some upgrading to make them fully accessible, but a couple of buggies help people get out on the greens.
The biggest problem is the steep nature of the course and the infamous climb, dubbed Heart Attack Hill.
Kevin hopes to secure grants and other funding to build an accessible pathway up the hillside.
Longley Park in Maple Street just outside the town centre has seen membership dwindle in recent years.
Kevin has put that down to the loss of ageing golfers who can no longer tackle the terrors of the hill.
“We are working with the club to increase membership again and improve facilities for all,” he said.
Keen golfer Mark Hughes, 42, of Meltham, was one of the first disabled golfers to try out the facilities.
Father-of-two Mark, who was born with his right arm missing from the elbow, said golf was a sport where the disabled and able-bodied could compete side by side.
“The handicapping system makes it a level playing field,” said Mark. “You are not pitting yourself against a guy with one arm, you are competing against someone with the same handicap.”
Mark, who played disabled cricket for England, can strike a ball 250 yards even with one arm.
Another eager to try out the course was former soldier Jack Holmes, 23, of Siddal, Halifax.
Jack, who lost both legs after an explosion in Afghanistan in September 2010, is a convert to golf.
He didn’t play until taking up the sport as part of his rehabilitation.
Then he was offered professional lessons as part of the PGA Golf Buddy programme and plays regularly at Bradley Park Golf Club in Huddersfield.
“People should come and have a go,” said Jack. “I’m addicted to golf now and it really helps my balance.”