• The Golf Academy has reaped rewards of having two Paragolfers
• "Disabled golfers have been overlooked for too long"
MEARNS CASTLE GOLF ACADEMY | PARAGOLFER
The operations manager at Mearns Castle Golf Academy has urged more golf clubs to seriously consider investing in a Paragolfer after reaping the rewards of new members and a hugely positive atmosphere.
The Glasgow facility is set to host the launch event of the new Paragolf Scotland body in April this year and, through the help and funding of the Social Care Ideas Factory (SCIF), has been able to offer two Paragolfers for the use of disabled people for the past 14 months.
But with some golf clubs in the USA having up to 30 machines, Russell Gray says the launch of Paragolf Scotland is a promising step but says catering for disabled golfers is something which has been overlooked over here for far too long.
“We’re privileged to be chosen as the facility that SCIF are using to launch Paragolf Scotland,” said Russell. “For us, running a golf facility for 14 years, golf is all about inclusion and I think disabled golfers have been overlooked for too long. In America, at some clubs there are as many as 30 machines, so we’re so far behind over here it’s unreal.”
Mearns are grateful to SCIF for choosing them as the venue for the Paragolfer back in December 2014 and have received so many positive comments from members and visitors alike who have been intrigued by the machines.
“There’s a fantastic feel-good factor up here,” said Russell. “It’s a great feeling to be able to help so many people out and change people’s lives. My first concern was what will our members think of this machine going onto the golf course and the greens but honestly, the members and people up here have really embraced it.
“We’ve had so many people coming in and saying, ‘it’s great that you’ve got this here’, and ‘it’s great to see so many wheelchair users taking up golf’.”
But not everyone who uses the Paragolfers at Mearns, of which they’re free, have long-term goals of heading back out onto the course. While the Academy has gained four disabled members, there are also five or six people that come up and use the Paragolfers solely for the purpose of socialising and as part of rehab.
And Russell revealed that the Paragolfers, despite their expense, have been fantastic for business and have improved their standing in the local community.
“We’ve now got four members who are disabled, paying £410 per year and I’m optimistic all of them will renew their memberships this year. They bring their friends, families, carers, so there’s a secondary spend in the shop for lunches and coffees – not that that’s what it’s all about though.
"Every club needs to take a step back and look at the bigger picture" - Russell Gray
“Every club needs to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of inclusion and making your golf club as accessible as possible. The Paragolfer is expensive, but being open to the idea of having a Paragolfer in a facility opens up so many doors, from feel-good factor, to positive marketing in the local community, new membership source and it will create a revenue stream.”
The launch of Paragolf Scotland will take place at Mearns Castle Golf Academy on Thursday, April 14, with Paragolf pioneer Anthony Netto flying over from the USA to be the guest speaker.
Paragolf Scotland :: Your thoughts
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