As the pressure mounted on the world’s greatest golfers last week at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, a group of young athletes with cognitive and physical disabilities relished the opportunity to practice their swing on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
As part of DP World Tour’s commitment to making golf more inclusive and accessible to all, eight young athletes from Heroes of Hope, a non-profit sports academy for people of determination in the UAE, were paired with the professionals for a series of one-hour golf lessons, with the final session delivered by G4D professional golfer and PGA of America coach, Chris Biggins.
The Heroes of Hope athletes, aged from 6-20 years old, enjoyed three lessons in the week leading up to the final Rolex Series event of 2022. In addition to personalised one-on-one golf lessons, the Heroes of Hope athletes experienced the tournament and the famous Earth Course where the world’s top 50 DP World Tour golfers, as well as the eight G4D (Golf for Disabled) professionals, played during the final event of the season.
Biggins, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and is the current World Number Three in Rankings for Golfers with Disability, spent an afternoon with a young Hero of Hope athlete, Hamza, who also has the neurological disorder. Besides showing off his golf skills, Biggins shared his personal experience of how he turned his passion for golf into a professional career.
Tom Phillips, Head of the Middle East for the DP World Tour, said: 'Our collaboration with Heroes of Hope reinforces the importance of grassroots organisations to growing the game of golf and making it the most inclusive sport of all. We want to show players of all abilities that they are able to experience the joy of the sport and through G4D they can see the many amazing professional opportunities that are available to them.'
The DP World Tour has been championing golf for people of determination through the Golf for Disabled initiative. First launched at the 2019 Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club, the European Tour group and European Golf Disabled Association (EDGA) committed to holding events on the same golf course during the weeks of DP World Tour events as the leading golfers from the gross World Ranking for Golfers with a Disability (WR4GD).
The new look 2022 G4D Tour started in May this year and included seven events in six different countries throughout the season, culminating in the G4D Tour Finale @ DP World Tour Championship, which saw Sweden’s Rasmus Lia win his first G4D Tour title.
DP World Tour and EDGA, a not-for-profit volunteer-based association of the National Golf Federations from 34 countries worldwide that focuses on boosting the game’s inclusive nature, as well as providing opportunities for golfers with a disability throughout the player pathway — will bring a professional golf instructor to the UAE at the beginning of 2023 to train the Heroes of Hope coaches. It's hoped that by having the Heroes of Hope coaches professionally trained in golf, they be able to deliver golf lessons not just to the eight athletes who experienced it during the DP World Tour Championship but to future generations of athletes with disabilities.
Heroes of Hope founder, Hollie Murphy explained: 'This is the first time our athletes have had the chance to learn about golf and experience it first-hand, so it’s been a fantastic opportunity for them to be taught by professionals like Chris Biggins who is also a role model for them. We have over 150 athletes with cognitive and physical disabilities that attend our programmes so it will be amazing for us to be able to introduce golf to them as part of our regular coaching programmes thanks to DP World Tour and EDGA.'