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The Belfry…. What Happened Next?

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

In October this year, Sport Parkinson’s organised it’s first golf competition at the Belfry. The Sport Parkinson’s Four Nations Golf Tournament, there was no doubt the day had a huge impact on those that participated, supported and volunteered at the event – but had that continued?

We caught up with the captains to see what had happened since then:

England Captain: Dave Andrews

“Although we won the competition, it wasn’t the be all and end all. The best thing was mixing with fellow parkinson’s golfers in their element.

Since then in November, Andrew Hobbs (on St Andrew’s Day aptly) organised a meet up at West Midlands Golf Club. We had a good time despite the cold weather – everybody played amazingly well! If you shot your handicap, you would come in with 36 Stableford points, and I think Andy Hobbs came in with 43 as the hometown winner! Les had 42 Stableford points, while I also came in over 36 along with three others! Everybody played really well, so it was a fantastic day.

“We’ve continued to organise meet ups, not just within the England team – personally I’m looking forward to hosting (Scotland’s) Hamish at my home club West Hill in the new year. It is great catching up with newly found friends on the golf course.

“My handicap continues to improve; I’m getting in 4/5 games a week if I can. What would I say to anyone who is unsure about taking up or returning to golf with PD? I’d steal Andy McAulay’s line from the video (above) – Just do it!

“I think we’ve demonstrated with the event itself that everybody left with a buzz from what happened. Whether it was the goal for the social interaction, or the combination of things as it happened, it was fantastic for everybody. So, I think it just goes to show the benefits of golf socially and physically to people with Parkinson’s which is brilliant. Anybody that’s keen to start up? I think although golf is quite a daunting sport to get into, if you look at going along to a driving range or putting green you can start slowly and move on when you become more confident. “

Ireland Captain: Padraig Barry

“I think the highlight was meeting people from other countries who also have Parkinson ‘s and the challenge of playing with them on the second day. You don’t just play; you also talk with those you are competing against.

Ireland now has about 20 regular members, where we chat, and look forward to playing and growing as a supportive group in the new year. The camaraderie it created is invaluable.”

Scotland Captain: Andy McAulay

“(on the Belfry) It was amazing, it was literally the opportunity of a lifetime and I know that I’m speaking on behalf of all the lads in the team -we all felt the same way!

My favourite thing was actually being announced on the first tee! I was shaking a little bit more than usual but having managed to get a half decent drive away on each of the three days it was great!

There was one negative thing, well apart from me getting my contact lens stuck in my eye half way through day one – Scotland not winning of course! For which we got the bronze medal! Better than wooden spoon! So, for me one of the things I like was the range of people that played within Scotland team, as well as the stories they had to tell.

We are planning on meeting up when the weather improves a bit, so we’re very much keeping in touch. That’s all good! We’re looking forward to playing the future Sport Parkinson’s events!

I’m inspired by the tournament, to organise more for disability golfers, and if you are Scottish and want to play­ get in contact! On a personal note I’ve become captain of the senior section at my local club!

For somebody who was feeling unsure if they wanted to come forward and take part? I would say for goodness’s sake come forward. I would say just do it!

Wales Captain: Alun Smith

The support we have gained is superb! You know we’re in regular contact. We’ve played golf regularly since. We’ve been out to Christmas dinners together; you know our wives have got their own group chat. I have to say, that they need to support each other as much as we do. So, it’s not just a sport, but it’s the social side as well – That’s very important.

We came last but I guess somebody had to and I’m still waiting for the wooden spoon to arrive!

Thinking about starting or returning to golf? It’s a difficult question because everybody is different and just thinking back not even two years, possibly 18 months…. I was very reluctant to get involved in any Parkinson’s community. I was very much head in the sand, I wanted to do it my way and not be part of a Parkinson’s community. If I was going back to talk to myself 18 months ago, I would say that’s probably the worst thing I could have done. This is because getting involved in in this group, and the boys have all said it to me in at various different times, being part of this group is one of the best single things they’ve done since they’ve had Parkinson’s in terms of managing their ongoing condition and and having support for their ongoing condition. I think it’s a fantastic thing.

You too can be part of the golfing community – Check out all our 2022 events, which we will be launching on the 1st January. Plus, our new community forum – where you can share your local events and have the chance meet new golfing friends!

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