In order to build on this and help develop a lasting legacy to the Open, the Department, has supported a number of inclusive golf projects across the Council areas. It is hoped that these projects will encourage and increase participation in golf among a number of currently under- represented groups including people with disabilities, young people, females and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. One such project for the next generation of budding Rory McIlroys is a Primary Schools Golf Programme.
Up to thirty primary schools across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area got the opportunity to get involved in golf in the school environment. The primary schools involved ran taster sessions in fun golf and were provided with age appropriate golf equipment along with both pupils and teachers receiving expert training in golf. The Programme is being delivered to primary schools in partnership with the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, local golf clubs, the University of Ulster Golf Scholars and the Golfing Union of Ireland.
Another project involved pupils of St. Gerard’s co-educational special school, Colin Glen. The children enjoyed games on the interactive screens and were coached by the golf professionals who taught them how to swing the club, how to make contact with the ball and, most importantly, how to enjoy golf.
Allen Park Golf Centre in Antrim hosted another project which catered for those with a disability. A bespoke inclusive golf day was delivered which was designed to promote the use of communication and teamwork. Those attending enjoyed a range of fun activities in a safe and welcoming environment and had the opportunity to learn the basic skills of golf. Activities included a number of indoor games using targets rather than holes, tennis balls instead of golf balls and using clubs with larger heads make it easier for people who had never used a golf club before.
There was also a blind golf Insight element in which the RNIB provided Guide Training for sighted guides to enable them to work with partially sighted and blind golfers. The guides are volunteers who give up their time freely to assist others experience the benefits of being active and taking part in sport. The event also provided an opportunity for members of the visually impaired community to experience blind golf with the help of the sighted guides. The inclusive golf projects are specifically designed to introduce participants to golf as a sport that everyone can take part in and enjoy. The projects are part of a number of pre-tournament initiatives which the Department has funded.