‘Golf is a fantastic sport for disabled’

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A Chesterfield golfer won’t let disability get in the way of him playing the game he loves - and is encouraging others to do the same.

Terry Kirkby was an active rugby player before a tumour in his spinal cord left him paraplegic and unable to walk, at the age of 38.

During his recovery, Terry tried different para-sports to stay active and keep competitive and he represented Great Britain in ice-sledge hockey and horse driving trials.

He had initially started to play golf in the year before his surgery and it was on the advice of his physiotherapist that he gave handigolf a go.

From a seated position, Terry has picked up the game quickly and has seen his handicap fall consistently while his love of the game has grown more so.

He said: “Golf is such a fantastic sport for disabled people. You are able to play either on your own or with friends no matter if they are disabled or not. For other sports, like wheelchair basketball or wheelchair rugby, you need to have a group of wheelchair users in order to have a game – golf isn’t like that.”

The 60-year-old has been named 2017 Senior Captain at Tapton Park Golf Club and plays regularly in club competitions against non-disabled golfers.

He has also had success in disabled competitions, winning five national championships.

“With the handicap system, I am able to play competitively against other golfers from my buggy and have a really good game, no matter who I am playing,” he added.

Terry is active when it comes to getting other disabled people into golf. He is heavily involved with the Handigolf Foundation, a charity dedicated to wheelchair golf, and helps to organise golf-taster sessions.

His is hopeful the popularity of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be the added incentive some might need to take part in sport regardless of disability.

It is a cause which is shared with the English Federation of Disability Sport, set out to encourage disabled people to be more active through its recent campaign Together We Will.

England Golf, the governing body for amateur golf, is also working with clubs and counties across the country to help and encourage more people with disabilities to play golf. WheelPower is an organisation dedicated to to providing opportunities for disabled people to find a sport they enjoy and provide opportunities throughout the year to introduce people to wheelchair sport.

Chris Turner, National Sports Director at WheelPower said: “It can be easy to overlook physical fitness and exercise if you are a wheelchair user. But playing golf can bring important health benefits and can help make everyday living easier and also more enjoyable.” Visit www.getintogolf.org to find out about beginner courses, taster lessons and special events.