Changing the face of Disabled Golf in Australia

I am now officially a Hubber! Check out this link. The Hub is basically a co-working space which encourages networking, collaboration and learning for individuals and small businesses from all industries. I am spending 2 to 3 days a week there (amongst exercise and walking practice) working on various initiatives, some of which I will touch on later. It provides a hyper interactive environment with an incredible cross-section of professionals from social entrepreneurs to graphic designers to management consultants. For anybody debating a fresh change to working from home, I highly recommend it.

At the start of October, I spent 2 days representing disabled golf at the 3rd Annual Return to Sport Expo. The event showcases over 50 disabled sports and pastimes for all disabilities.

I enjoyed the opportunity to tell my story and discuss disabled golf with a large group of corporates who were on-site one of the days.

I was also convinced to come in ridiculously early one day to be part of the morning Today Show. Disappointingly though, as you will see, some of my ball striking was seriously poor.

(video to follow shortly)

All said and done, it was an incredible event with great coverage and very encouraging numbers.

I frequently refer to “the journey” and am constantly reminded by circumstance of the truly unique positions I find myself in week to week. My morning at Northern Beaches Secondary College was no different. Having agreed to talk to a group of year 10 children post morning tea, as a favour for a friend of mine (due to his child’s recent misdemeanors), I expected a rowdy group of adolescents looking for blood.

In reality, I was met with a polite, humble and receptive audience who hardly managed a murmur. The cynic in me could have simply attributed the silence to fear. The Q&A was what really stuck with me though. Such an array of interested, intuitive and diverse questions were fired my way. I have not spent a great deal of time with 15-year-olds recently but perhaps that age represents the perfect cross-section of inhibition and intelligence levels?

Probably the most thought-provoking question… “Would you take your accident back if you could?”

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Now to the BIG project…… Empower Golf Australia – because every disabled person deserves the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of golf.

Over the last month or so I have been presenting a proposal to establish a multi-disability National Golf Association in Australia. It aims to attract new golfers, support current golfers and initiate multi-disability tournaments and development days. It will also fund and provide equipment/facilities for disabled golfers across the country.

As it stands, well over 1 million Australians play golf every year.  Even though 20% of Australians are disabled, by my calculations only 1000-2000 play golf.  This is set to change.

Golf is a highly attractive sport for the disabled as it delivers critical physical and psychological benefits which improve overall health and quality of life. It also provides individuals with an avenue to engage socially within a community and is a challenging sport played easily into later life.  The handicap system is unique to golf and allows individuals to compete on a level playing field irrespective of age, gender, ability or background.

One of the key ingredients to delivering a sustainable initiative is the introduction of a levy of $1 per annum, per club golfer (i.e. someone who pays membership fees each year) to help fund the program. Given Australia is in ‘golfing season’, with Adam Scott (currently ranked number 2 in the world) winning his last 2 tournaments and culminating in the Australian Open next week, it has been a very busy time.

With any luck, through my relationship with Titleist (arguably the most famous golf brand in the world) I will be hitting golf balls on the driving range with Adam Scott prior to the tournament.

As such, following some of the new developments at Moore Park Golf (check out the new ramp)

and the set up of the new Paragolfer, (check out the completed training program) I have been practising as much as I can.

I will give you an honest breakdown of how I held it together under pressure next time.

Finally, Sarah and I have had a run of weekends away for good friend’s weddings and bucks parties. Here is one of the bucks.

and one of the beautiful brides……