A film about disabled golf shot on the eve of the recent ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship has captured the hearts of BBC bosses who plan to showcase it to a worldwide audience of millions.
The feature, filmed by BBC Look East reporter Tom Williams, focuses on disability golf and the ISPS Handa PGA Academy programme which is helping break down barriers and give thousands of people with disabilities a new lease of sporting life.
The film was first shown on BBC national news and the BBC Get Inspired programme earlier this month. In addition, it will run during the BBC’s Open coverage next month, and possibly during the Ryder Cup and next year’s Masters coverage and also across the world on BBC World which has an approximate audience of 85 million.
Williams described the piece as having been a ‘monumental success’ and its impact has already been felt by PGA Professional Craig Thomas, who leads the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme and is running free disabled coaching clinics throughout the PGA Seniors Championship at Stoke by Nayland.
“A couple came along yesterday and the woman, in her 60s, had had a severe stroke 30 years ago, but never thought she would be able to play golf because she has paralysis down one side,” said Thomas.
“But she saw Tom’s film and was inspired to come along to have a go which was fantastic and just reinforces the message we are trying to get out that golf is accessible to everyone – no matter what disability you might have and with the expert help of PGA Professionals who have gone through the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme we can actually help them to not only enjoy this great game but play it well too.”
Appearing in the film are one legged golfer Chris Foster, short-armed golfer Richard Saunders and autistic teenager Lewis Eccles who took part in a par 3 challenge with Ryder Cup vice-captain Des Smyth, European Senior Tour no.1 Paul Wesselingh and record money winner Carl Mason.
And the trio were also part of an ISPS Handa coaching clinic with Thomas at Stoke by Nayland. To date more than 200 PGA pros have gone through the academy programme and are using their expertise to help disabled golfers.
Dr Haruhisa Handa, the man behind ISPS Handa, is on a mission to make golf a Paralympic sport.
Any PGA pros interested in enrolling in the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme can contact the PGA Training
Academy on 01675 470333.