Celebration time for award-winning Anders

Celebration time for award-winning Anders

19/01/2021

Award-winning PGA Advanced Fellow Professional Anders Mankert has something noteworthy to celebrate in times blighted by the coronavirus pandemic - a quarter-of-a-century coaching and helping blind and visually impaired golfers.

The 47-year-old, who owns and runs the Leicester Golf Centre in Oadby on the outskirts of the city, began coaching Jim O’Brien in January 1996.

They hooked up when Mankert was based at Kilworth Springs Golf Club and are still working together after 25 years that have seen O’Brien enjoy much success, not least a hole-in-one.

O’Brien joined a distinguished band in 2013 when he became one of the few totally blind golfers worldwide to have a hole-in-one, the ace coming at Hindhead Golf Club, Surrey.

Mankert has followed up by coaching many other totally blind and visually impaired golfers and is the only PGA Professional to be awarded Honorary Life Membership by England and Wales Blind Golf (EWBG).

He has been part of the EWBG training programme, hosted clinics all over the country and offered numerous free ones to enable blind or visually impaired people to experience golf for the first time.

He has also undertaken several fund-raising efforts which have raised thousands of pounds towards buying equipment to enable blind people to take up golf as well as cover their expenses to access the game.

The EWBG is a charitable organisation and its chairman Barry Ritchie said: “We receive no funding other than that raised by our members and board of directors.

“Anders has provided his expertise and facility for the training free of charge - his support has been invaluable over the years.”

Billy McAllister (pictured above with Anders Mankert), who makes the long journey from Brighton to the Leicester Golf Centre every six weeks for a lesson with Mankert, is another success story.

He was ranked almost last of 68 totally blind golfers in the world rankings when they met but now lies third.

McAllister has won a host of major tournaments including the British and Australian Opens in that time and is due to compete in the World Championships in South Africa later this year.

Reflecting on being coached by Mankert, he said: “I started making strides quite quickly after I began working with Anders.

“As well as being one of the top coaches in the country, he is such a nice man and has never once asked for a penny.

“He always pushes me that little bit further, has an understanding of blind golf and their sighted caddies and he teaches many other golfers like me. He hasn’t charged them for anything either and he has definitely improved me tenfold.”

As the owner of the Leicester Golf Centre and its Gallops course, Mankert is able to offer free access to golf to all blind or visually impaired men and women.

“This allows them to enjoy the unforgettable experience of golf for the first time on a proper course,” he said.

“As someone who has benefitted from the help of many people over the years, I understand the power of having someone place their faith in me and how powerful that can be.

“Being given a leg-up by someone without any motivation other than genuinely to help is incredibly powerful and can change the course of someone’s life.

“If I have been able to play some small part in making this happen for someone then I feel very privileged to have been able to do so. I’m in a fortunate position to be able to give something back to the game which has given me so much.”

 

 

 

  

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