Brendan Lawlor ready to make ‘huge step forward’ on Tour debut

https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/brendan-lawlor-ready-to-make-huge-step-forward-on-tour-debut-39479094.html

Brendan Lawlor is used to breaking new ground on the fairways and this week the Dundalk man will take another giant step on his remarkable journey when he becomes the first disability golfer to play in a European Tour event.

The Co Louth man (23) has a rare condition called Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, characterised by shorter stature and shorter limbs.

But that hasn’t stopped him turning professional and joining Ryder Cup player Tyrrell Hatton and LPGA Tour star Leona Maguire in Niall Horan’s Modest! Golf stable, earning an invitation to compete against Major winners Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer in the ISPS HANDA UK Championship at The Belfry this week.

“It’s just crazy,” said Lawlor, who is supported by Carton House, American Golf and adidas and yesterday became the first disability golfer to sign a professional club contract with TaylorMade.

“This week is a huge step forward for the inclusion of disability golfers in the game. I am not expecting to win the tournament but if I put two solid rounds together, which I know I can, I hope I will not be too far away from the cut line. It’s a massive ask but I love competing. I love to set goals and if you don’t set your goals as high as you can, sure where would you be?”

Ranked fourth in the world rankings for disability golf, Lawlor played in the Challenge Tour’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational Men|Women at Galgorm Castle last August, carding rounds of 78 and 74 to miss the cut.

“ISPS HANDA asked be to an ambassador and I was delighted they extended me an invitation this week to help promote the power of sport for everyone,” said Brendan, who turned professional late last year and joined Tiger Woods and Ernie Els in helping promote disabled golf at last year’s Presidents Cup.

Now he’s got a chance to compete against some of the game’s superstars with Lee Westwood and Ireland’s Paul Dunne and Niall Kearney also in the field.

“I always had the mentality to play at the highest level I could,” added Brendan, who has been paired with England’s Richard McEvoy and Denmark’s Jeff Winther for the first two rounds.

Confidence

“I played Senior Cup and Barton Shield for Dundalk against very good players. I might not beat the Caolan Raffertys of the world, but if you are competing close to their level, it gives you confidence.”

He’s no stranger to pressure, teeing it up in disability events played alongside the 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf and last year’s Scottish Open, KPMG Trophy and DP World Tour Championship.

“Those were integration events where disability golfers had their own event within the event,” he explained. “This is a bit of added pressure, to be actually competing against these guys. I am not here to win but enjoy it and hopefully people will watch me and take inspiration from it.”

Modest! Golf’s Mark McDonnell is simply inspired by Lawlor’s attitude to life.

“Signing Brendan is probably one of the most rewarding things we have done as a business,” McDonnell said. “He’s a trailblazer in every way. It’s not about what he scores this week but about giving hope to people out there who might not play sport because they are embarrassed to or they have a disability and don’t feel they’re welcome.

“If he can help people get into sport and help their mental health, he feels he’s doing a good job.”

Courtesy of the Irish Independent

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Solorider Game Changer, Life Changer

Another first for the University of Arizona

The University of Arizona (UArizona) Adaptive Athletics Program continues to challenge the status quo with the addition of the first collegiate adaptive golf program in the U.S. “We have over a 40-year history [of adaptive sports] here at UArizona and now we are trying to expand our reach even more,” said Peter Hughes, UArizona Adaptive Athletics Director. Golf is a popular sport in Tucson, Arizona due to the weather and cost of living. Although Hughes didn’t know much about adaptive golf, he recognized the sport was popular in Tucson and catered to visually-impaired athletes. “We haven’t had adaptive sports for many, many years regarding visually impaired individuals,” said Hughes. “There are a lot of golfers and golf events in Southern Arizona, including the U.S. Blind Golf Association Open in Green Valley. I felt like our program should be furthering this cause. ”In collaboration with local golf simulator business, TeeItUp Enterprises, UArizona’s adaptive golf program was launched in September 2019. Jon Moore, co-founder of TeeItUp, sparked an initial conversation with Hughes about adaptive sports on an airline flight seven years ago. Four years later, Moore’s son, Christopher Schmidt, lost his vision and stumbled upon the U.S. Blind Golf Association. When Moore’s son started competing in tournaments throughout the country, a fire was ignited within the pair to increase participation in adaptive golf.


First Adaptive Golf Program in Collegiate Sports

Moore remembered his conversation with Hughes several years prior and gave him a call to pitch the idea of starting a program at UArizona. Golf marks the seventh sport added to UArizona’s Adaptive Athletics program. The golf team has recruited five athletes, including the newest recruit Bailey Bish.

“It means a lot to me that the University of Arizona has an adaptive golf team. I grew up playing sports, and I have dreamed of playing sports in college ever since I can remember,” said Bish. A Tucson native, Bish grew up on the fifth hole of the Forty Niner Country Club with her younger sister and parents. She joined the Tanque Verde High School golf team during her freshman year. “I fell in love with golf because I get to be outside, and it’s very peaceful and quiet,” said Bish. “It was something I was able to do with a weak right side. My right leg and right arm were the problems and with golf, you just need a strong left side to transfer [weight] onto. Bish is a freshman at Pima Community College studying logistics and supply chain management. She plans to transfer to UArizona to pursue a degree in organizational leadership or regional commerce.

Other original team members such as Jesse Williamson and Christopher Schmidt, as well as other adaptive golfers, will be featured in future posts on our blog. Each has a unique story to tell and are indicative of what adaptive golf holds for the development of adaptive sports and the growth of the sport of golf.

Our new venture to provide lessons and clinics to all of those who wish to enhance their lives through the game of golf.

With the addition of adaptive golf at UArizona, Moore and Hughes plan to help other universities across the West Coast develop programs of their own. “We’ve got proposals on the table right now with four major universities on the West Coast, and it’s our intention to set up a western adaptive golf conference,” said Moore. Moore also indicated that the concept could soon make its way to the Midwest and Southeast US with the intention of one day creating a national conference.

“The more people we can have playing golf, the better it is for our game. The more things we can do to reduce barriers to entry regardless if it’s finances, access to courses or disability, it’s a great thing for everyone who plays golf,” said Jim Anderson, head coach for UArizona men’s golf team. “I think what the adaptive athletics program is doing is pioneering another opportunity for a market of golfers to exist and hopefully figure out a way to provide people with an opportunity or at least attract people to the University of Arizona thanks to this program.”

Resonate: @Peter Hughes

Everyday I am humbled by the support that this program receives from its community and its friends.  In 2004 on my way driving out here for the opportunity to play for Coach Brown and to become a Wildcat, I turned to my wife and said to her “What the hell are we doing?  Leaving our world, your family, my job, our home for me to play basketball?!?”  Her answer was “I have no idea!”.   Now when I ask myself that same question the answer is simple and clear “We are changing the world”.  I would not be in a this position without your support.  Thank you for trusting me with this role, it remains my great passion.  “Champions are made in Tucson”.

Peter Hughes, Adaptive Sports Athletic Director UArizona

The Man, The Myth, The Legend!

New Adaptive Golf Program coming soon

University of Arizona Adaptive Athletics Program to launch first ever Adaptive Golf program.

The University of Arizona Adaptive Athletics program, already the largest in the nation supporting six wheelchair sports has announced its first golf tournament to help raise money to create the first ever Adaptive Golf program in the USA.

Our goal, is to provide top level education and sporting experience for any athlete with a physical disability that wants to attend our University.  Golf has a rich history in Tucson and at our University so it makes sense that we support adaptive golf here at the University.  Adaptive Golf is played by amputees, by people with Spinal Cord Injuries, cognitive disabilities and the Visually Impaired.  We can and will support their educational and athletic goals with community support.

To start the program, Adaptive Athletics is teaming up with Tee it Up Tour Productions which promotes adaptive golf throughout the USA and will be hosting the Inaugural TIU Shootout Benefit Tournament which will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at Sewailo Golf Club.  

To register online please go to: