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November 25, 2020

Golf Foundation helping PGA Professionals to specialise in inclusive coaching

The Golf Foundation is helping to empower PGA Professionals with new coaching resources for young people across a range of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). New guidelines can build expertise among coaches while unlocking the potential for more youngsters who are disabled to thrive through golf.

The Golf Foundation’s network of junior-friendly HSBC Golf Roots Centres is already encouraged to deliver inclusive coaching and play, and many of the projects we support get involved in disability sessions, as our charity works to create life changing opportunities for young people using the power of golf.

Now, working with sector leaders Activity Alliance, the Golf Foundation team is developing improved links with specialist regional SEND projects and charities. This approach will effectively match the actual needs of local community projects with local PGA coaches, who in turn can tailor specific lessons to encourage their young people to enjoy a start in golf.

A series of disability-specific ‘Flash Cards’ is being created, containing at-a-glance pictures of the golf swing in action, which can be shared with young students as a visual reminder during sessions (youngsters with certain SEND conditions can particularly benefit from visual aids in learning).

The Foundation has also created a simple new general guide in how to create a coaching programme for young people who are disabled. All the new resources are free to PGA coaches and are found in a new dedicated area on the Golf Foundation website, which will list a growing number of useful downloads.

These include support for primary school teachers, external training courses from key partners, advice for delivering inclusive golf sessions, inclusive Super Sixes formats for golf clubs, British Sign Language (BSL) for Golf coaching videos and more.

Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer Paul Aitkens has recently completed two new specific resources in the areas of coaching young people with Down syndrome, and also Autism. Paul, a PGA Professional in his own right, has coached successfully children who have these conditions and has written the resources with expert advice from specialists to help fellow PGA coaches who want to develop their coaching profile.

Further disability specific coaching sheets, cards and workshops will be created in the near future, starting with wheelchair users, young people with Cerebral Palsy and those with special educational needs.

The Down syndrome and Autism sheets focus on actual coaching sessions, with tailored coaching and communication advice so both students and coach can get the most out of the sessions. Flash Card visual aids for youngsters with these conditions can fit into a plastic wallet and lanyard so the coach can have easy access to the cards during sessions.

The Golf Foundation has succeeded in forming closer links with national charity Down syndrome UK, already helping to create links for PGA coaches with local groups in their areas. (An expression of interest form is available on our website for any PGA pro who would like to take part in a coaching webinar on this subject.)

Nicola Enoch, a Trustee at Down syndrome UK, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with the Golf Foundation to encourage more golf professionals and golf facilities to become more inclusive, and ensure golf is accessible to children and young people with Down syndrome to enjoy.”

The Golf Foundation’s Paul Aitkens said: “We have taken a fresh look at how we can help young people who are disabled to gain confidence and thrive through their experience in golf. This has given our team great impetus to develop new resources that will give professional coaches and volunteers greater belief in their ability to engage with youngsters in a way that means both the coach and pupil can enjoy brilliant learning sessions.

“Thanks to the support of our colleagues at Activity Alliance we have been able to think smarter for our PGA Professionals; identifying the local need among community groups and schools for SEND youngsters and then up-skill the PGA Professionals to tailor inclusive golf coaching completely appropriate to the young students involved. Linking up with a great charity like Down syndrome UK is a perfect example of how we can learn from the experts in their field, with PGA coaches and their students being the beneficiaries.”

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