June Club of the Month!
Scottish Disability Golf & Curling (SDGC) has grown from the green shoots of two of Scotland’s iconic sports to a globally-recognised model of disability participation.
Formed in 2004, Scottish Disability Golf was the first organisation in the world to incorporate anyone of any age with a disability that interferes with the playing or learning about the sport.
Once word got out, founder Jim Gales MBE CF became inundated with requests from all over the world to come to Scotland and learn about their unique approach to participation.
Visitors came from all four corners of the globe - the USA, Norway and New Zealand - and the club now boasts over 1,000 members in more than 20 countries.
“We’re extremely proud of what this has become,” said Gales.
“We could never have predicted we’d go from about 30 people playing a social game of golf to the numbers we now have involved from all over the world.
“People were clamouring to visit us and they basically stole our framework to involve people of any disability and it’s now spreading across the world.
“The ethos of anyone being able to play golf or curling is so important to us. We started off with a blank sheet of paper and didn’t want to turn anyone away.
“We’re just very proud that people have taken the idea on. The crucial thing for us is engaging young people and getting them involved.”
SDGC’s golf season runs from April through to October and curling from October to the following March.
When there is an overlap, they operate ‘Sticks and Stones’ where members can participate in both sports at multi-day events.
SDGC’s HUB sessions are a vital tool to steadily increasing their membership and they operate at numerous sites across Scotland, including as far north as the Highlands town of Elgin.
Sessions carefully blend experienced players with new recruits to foster familiarity and sociability. Participants can just stop by for a coffee and a chat, or be coached by a PGA professional.
The COVID-19 pandemic has naturally prevented SDGC from organising events - they stage around 60 per year, including Open competitions in six other nations, and social gatherings.
Never ones to sit still, the SDGC committee have organised a ‘Virtual Order of Merit’ golf tournament to scratch the competitive itch and help out volunteers working to protect those at risk as members request proceeds be donated to a Senior Citizens Charity instead of the usual prize money.
They have also held regular ‘radio chats’, involving members sharing news, updates and memories, that helps combat isolation among their participants.
This initiative and their outstanding track record have seen them named Parasport Club of the Month for June, an award Jim hopes will help spread the word even further.
“It’s really important we keep in touch with our members because we work with a range of people with a range of disabilities at a range of ages,” Jim explains.
“We make special efforts to stay connected with some of our older members who are being shielded and younger members who are bored without school.
“Our website and our social media outlets give us a great platform to be able to do that.
"It's great to be named Club of the Month and very unexpected. Hopefully this will give us a chance to get the club out there even more and who knows, maybe attract some new members.
“I hope we’re helping our members through this tricky time. Being isolated and lonely is not a new thing for some of them, given their disabilities and age.
“It’s nice to give them a phone call and give them a light at the end of the tunnel - for us, that’s playing golf and curling."
Click HERE to find out more about getting involved in Scottish Disability Golf & Curling!
Footage of Scottish Disability Golf & Curling members engaging in golf and curling courtesy of Lloyd Greenaway of Lloydi Golf.