30 Jul 15
A Northern Ireland PGA pro, who has helped a local council bring golf into its community, was nominated as the Toby Sunderland award recipient for The PGA in Ireland.
Roy Skillen, based at Castlereagh Hills Golf Course, is providing coaching and taster session to a broad section of community organisations.
The 43 year old took time out from his work to be presented with his award at the Open Championship at St Andrews during The PGA’s annual reception.
The Toby Sunderland award highlights efforts of PGA pros both in terms of charity fundraising and wider commitments to growing and promoting the game.
Skillen picked up a £250 cheque to donate to the charity of his choice which was the Mary Peters Trust.
The coach has embraced the opportunity to engage with the local community and has provided coaching sessions for the Salvation Army, mental health care group Praxis NI, the Blind Association and the Adoption and Foster Care Services.
“Council officials see the many physical and mental benefits that playing golf can have across a wide cross-section of society,” said Skillen who has been in post for seven years.
“Back in 2009 we launched a Tri-Golf Primary Schools Coaching programme which involves each school (there are now 23 taking part) getting some free coaching sessions.
“We then expanded on the theme and now host an annual one-day Primary Schools Tri-Golf Competition which attracts upwards of 120 children.”
More recently, via Castlereagh Borough Council, Skillen has also devised a golf programme specifically for older people and people with disabilities.
“The six week programme, which is totally free, gives every participant a chance to try the various elements of the game; putting, short game etc in a relaxed environment that encourages a socialising aspect,” added Skillen.
“On completion of the course, the participants also get two months free membership of the golf course. The feedback I have received from the groups has been fantastic.
“From the over 60s coaching, the Castlereagh Hills Club has received over 30 new members.”
An innovative programme supporting inclusive sport throug golf has been named Best Partnership of the Year 2018 by Sport Ireland.
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