Blog: “Golf has transformed my life”
As the sector continues to recover and reinvent from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hear from disabled people what it's been like returning to activity. In our latest blog, we hear from Greg Jackson on how golf has opened up a whole new world for him.
Hi, my name is Greg Jackson. I’ve been a T12 paraplegic since I was 21 due to a motorbike accident in 1983. I started playing golf six years ago and it has completely transformed my life.
Before I found golf, my life was at a bit of a low point. I felt that I needed to do more with my life. I had tried all sorts of things since my motorbike accident which were enjoyable, but nothing really got me hooked. I started looking for other things to try and I searched disability golf out of curiosity, not expecting anything to be available for a paraplegic wheelchair user.
But then I came across The Handigolf Foundation which is a registered charity that operates as a nationwide golfing society. It has been promoting real golf for disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, since 1988. It is run entirely on a voluntary basis by its members, for its members and provides specially adapted buggies for disabled people to play golf from.
My first experience was meeting the Chair of Handigolf, Terry Kirby, at a golf driving range to hit a few balls. Terry is paraplegic too and he showed me the adapted buggy and demonstrated how he plays his shots. So, then it was my turn and I still remember the thrill of seeing that golf ball flying high and straight ending up past the 100-yard marker. From that moment on, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to get onto a golf course and try the real thing. So, I joined Handigolf there and then.
Golf has opened a whole new world for me. I have made a lot of new friends since I started playing. When I first joined my local club at Brailsford in Derbyshire, I just went around the course by myself, but it wasn’t long before members started introducing themselves to me and making me feel very welcome at the club. I have since found this to be typical of the golfing world in general, it’s a very friendly environment.
As well as the great social side of golf, there is also plenty of opportunities to play competitively which I really enjoy as I am a very competitive person by nature. I play in disability golf tournaments all over the country, meeting golfers with all different impairments, each finding a way to play some fantastic golf.
For me, golf is also probably the most inclusive of all sports because the handicap system allows you to compete on a level playing field against non-disabled players - it makes everyone equal. It’s also a great way to get some fresh air in the countryside while getting some exercise.
I can’t imagine life without golf now. It’s given me so much and has massively increased my sense of wellbeing, confidence, and self-esteem.
My greatest golfing achievement is winning the National Handigolf Championship twice. I have also made history by becoming one of the first ever wheelchair golfers in the country to be made captain of a non-disabled golf club at Brailsford Golf Club.
The Handigolf Foundation has allowed me to achieve all of this so I hope my experience can inspire other disabled people to get into golf and change their life as fantastically as it has changed mine. We are always on the lookout for new members because I feel it gets very little attention or publicity compared to other disability sports. Moreover, COVID severely impacted the chances of gaining new members as it wasn’t possible for us to go around the country giving taster sessions and demonstrations. The lockdown also closed golf courses and I went from playing two to three times a week to nothing at all. I found this frustrating, and it made me realise just how important golf is to my mental and physical wellbeing.
Now COVID restrictions are lifted it feels great to be back out on the fairways again. So, if any disabled people reading this want to give golf a try, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are a friendly bunch of people, and we would be more than happy to arrange a free taster session at a driving range in your area.
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