I’ve never been a particularly sporty person. Even from the time I was very young I was usually the one with my head buried in a book while my friends were running around, or hitting a tennis ball against a wall to practise their shots. Nonetheless, since losing my sight I have tried a few activities and sports – 10-pin bowling, tandem cycling, pool, mini-golf and scuba diving, which I wrote about last year.
So it wasn’t really a huge surprise when I signed up for an adaptive golf day being run by the Raising Hope South Africa team. Their advert said they could accommodate people with a range of disabilities and would adapt to each person’s particular needs.
I was by no means the only person at the open day with a visual condition. Even more fun, I already knew two of the other participants, both of whom are partially sighted, and there was much laughter at our first attempts to aim the balls at our allocated targets. Well, at least at my first attempts to aim the balls at my allocated target, which was definitely a bit hit and miss. More miss than hit, if I’m honest.
My first challenge was to learn how to find where the ball was located. Even with sighted assistance helping me to position myself correctly, I still had to take the swing and try to hit the ball on my own. After showing a decided talent for hitting the ground near the ball I eventually learned to lift the head of the golf club a few centimetres off the ground before taking my swing, and that improved my chances of actually hitting the ball.
I also discovered that my skills with a putter far exceeded my abilities with a driver. I don’t know whether the shape of the driver affected the balance of the club which left me striking the ball in the most unpredictable directions. Certainly I hit the targets a whole lot more often when I was putting
There are a couple of videos of me taking shots on my Facebook, but please bear in mind that these were taken once I had started figuring golf out a little. So they probably make me look more in control than I felt.
Honestly, I’m not about to give up my day job and spend all my time improving my golf game. But I certainly had a lot of fun exploring adaptive golf and would recommend it to any of my friends with disabilities when Raising Hope SA has their next open day.
Thank you to Mary and Ashlyn of Raising Hope South Africa and Shane of Hazendal Golf Course for giving me the opportunity to try adaptive golf.
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Hmm, I wonder what my next adaptive adventure will be?
I promised to update you on what is planned for A Different Way of Travelling, the podcast on accessible travel that I currently host for Accessible South Africa. Which I will do – but first, let me tell you about our most recent episode, where we chat about adaptive golf.
For some reason it feels like I’ve been coming across an increasing number of adaptive sports. It’s exciting to be constantly finding people who are making sports more inclusive for persons with disabilities in South Africa. And my latest podcast episode contains yet one more example of this – namely adaptive golf.
Admittedly, I don’t know if the Raising Hope SA Golf Academy is the first of it’s kind in South Africa, or whether adaptive golf is available all over the country. But it is new to me, and I wanted to tell my listeners about it, in case I wasn’t the only one for whom this is news.
You can hear the story of the Raising Hope SA Golf Academy, and about some of the other projects being run by Raising Hope SA, in my latest podcast episode, at http://iono.fm/e/1155543
The academy is open to anyone, regardless of their age, disability, and financial status. I really like the approach they are taking – to work with each individual person and figure out how best to accommodate their needs and abilities. Because, as we know, each person’s abilities are uniquely different.
On a broader scope, we are going to be making some exciting changes to the podcast in the coming weeks. Firstly, the name is going to change to A Different Way of Seeing, though that won’t have any impact on you if you subscribe to the podcast on any of the usual podcast players.
We’re also shifting the focus of the podcast to explore the lived experiences of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life – work, education, sport, the arts, and leisure, as well as travel. I’m excited about chatting to people and hearing more about the tools and techniques they use to make their lives easier in all these areas.
The changes will probably only come into play in episode 60, which will most likely be in March or April. But watch this space – we’ll be sure to keep you updated as things happen.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy learning about adaptive golf and the Raising Hope SA Golf Academy. And, if you know of other adaptive golf initiatives in South Africa, please let me know about it.