Sutton Coldfield charity set to build first disability-friendly putting green after grant from the Royal Town’s historic charitable trust.
Walmley Golf Foundation Community Interest Company is set to install the artificial short game area and putting green, which will be suitable for mobility equipment, after receiving a grant for £44,500 from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust (SCCT), which has been supporting good causes in the area for centuries.
The specially-designed green – believed to be the first of its kind on the country – will be installed at Walmley Golf Club, where members first set up the foundation in 2017 with the aim of making golf more relevant and accessible to those within Sutton Coldfield.
Since then, the Foundation has provided and funded golf sessions for in excess of 1000 participants from more than 40 organisations. The new green represents a major step forward in its work, and could be copied at golf clubs across the country.
Walmley Golf Foundation CIC Chairwoman Lesley Robbins said: “We are very excited about the new short game area, which will potentially make golf so much more accessible for so many local people, simply by giving them to access a good quality green and coaching support.
“This grant from SCCT will provide substantial help in getting the artificial putting green and short game area put in place and allow more access to people with mobility issues such as paraplegics, amputees, stroke victims, wheelchairs users and people using walking aids. We believe that golf should be inclusive to all as an activity.
“Traditional wheelchairs or walking aids cannot be used on a grass green without causing significant damage and movement is limited, and while there are specific chairs designed for disability golf, they are extremely expensive and not practical for grass roots participation.
“So, developing an artificial area like this is potentially a game changer for so many people who want to get involved in golf.”
The CIC is now working closely with Hampshire-based Huxley Golf, who will be designing, supplying and installing the green, which will measure 30ft x 40ft and will be accessed by a newly surfaced pathway from the club house, which has been paid for by Walmley Golf Club.
It will occupy an area in front of three covered driving bays, which along with a teaching studio were installed in 2021 and designed by head coach Sam Stuart, who has been instrumental in driving the CIC’s work.
Sam Stuart said: “I attended the European Disabled Golf Association World Series event at the Belfry in 2022, to meet with officials and players, and to see and hear their stories of disabled golf at an elite level.
“The biggest common denominator amongst the players was their first interaction with golf and the realisation that they can in fact play golf despite their individual disability.
“It is this opportunity for a first interaction with golf and developing the grass roots access availability to those with a physical disability we want to improve going forward at Walmley. A big part of achieving this goal is having a suitable and accessible facility for participants to use – which is why this short game area and putting green will be so valuable.
“We are very grateful for the support of SCCT, as everything that we do at the Golf Foundation is paid for by donations and fundraising. This grant will make the putting green a reality.”
Preparation will begin in October for installation of the green, which will be framed by an hard-wearing outer surface, which will be suitable for wheelchairs and walking aids, and will give players access to two teeing areas, from which they will be able to attempt a series of putts.
SCCT Chief Executive Tina Swani, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this brilliant project, which will make golf accessible to so many people across the area.
“Two of our key aims as a Trust are to promote active lifestyles in the area, and to reach out and support those who may be isolated or unable to access facilities. Walmley Golf Foundation CIC clearly shares these ambitions, and has done so much work since it was founded in 2017 to introduce people to the joys of golf. We’re very happy to help them achieve the next chapter in their story.”
Work will begin on the new facility on October 16th, with an opening planned to take place on 16th May 2024.