(photo: Sean Richards, England Deaf Golf (EDG) and Paul Waring, EDG ambassador and No.1 EDG player)
American Golf, part of International Leisure Group, has secured a partnership with England Deaf Golf (EDG), the governing body for deaf and hard of hearing golfers in England, with the aim of breaking down player barriers for the hearing impaired and increasing player participation within the deaf community.
Currently, lack of infrastructure and knowledge regarding how to communicate with deaf golfers, whether in a retail, coaching or course environment, means that many deaf golfers give up on their passion as the challenges to playing become too much..
As a result, deaf golfers miss out on the widely acknowledged social benefits of the sport, leading to further feelings of isolation and frustration.
Working across key American Golf retail and leisure sites including Golf Kingdom, Barnehurst Golf Club, High Legh Park Golf Club, Hemingford Abbots Driving Range and Rossendale Driving Range, a dedicated EDG society manager will act as the liaison between regional deaf golf societies and American Golf locations to ensure fully inclusive environments for deaf golfers.
This will include the on-site positioning of SignVideo technology to allow British Sign Language interpreters to assist with communication to deaf golfers over a video relay.
In addition, staff workshops on improving communication with deaf players - including the opportunity to learn basic sign language - will be rolled out across American Golf sites and an all-inclusive end-of-season golf tournament is planned to celebrate and showcase the sport’s deaf community and talent.
This will include junior challenges aimed at paving the way for grassroots learning for deaf children, which will be bolstered by deaf school trips to introduce the sport from an early age, increase interest and empower the next generation of deaf and hard of hearing golfers.
American Golf's communication channels will also be a key support in highlighting the importance of British Sign Language following the BSL Act receiving Royal Assent on 28April 2022.
Sean Richards, Secretary, England Deaf Golf said: “We’re very happy to be partnering with American Golf to increase player participation within the deaf community. I’ve been incredibly saddened when I’ve seen first-hand deaf people giving up on golf due to communication barriers around coaching, buying golf apparel and equipment and generally navigating range and course locations.
American Golf’s assistance will enable us to help change this trend for good, by raising awareness of the steps taken to ensure player inclusivity while promoting EDG is a great avenue to meet and play with likeminded people within supportive environments.”
Gary Favell, CEO, American Golf said: “As a sport, golf offers an incredible array of well-being, mental and social benefits that everyone - regardless of age, gender, or disability – should be able to enjoy.
“We have a lot to do to ensure course inclusivity among the deaf and hard of hearing community and we feel a big responsibility to help further this cause and affect positive change in this area. Our partnership with England Deaf Golf will play a vital role in making far-reaching, practical changes to our sites, which we hope will afford deaf players the opportunity to confidently discover the game of golf.”
American Golf has 95 retail stores across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, while also offering delivery to countries across Europe.