Special Olympics Leagues

Bob Beach, the 2013 PGA Patriot Award winner and a New England PGA Section Hall of Fame member, is the PGA head professional at Braintree (Massachusetts) Municipal Golf Course.

Our weekly clinics for people with special needs at the Braintree Municipal Golf Course have grown to over 100 people. We recently formed a league for our Special Olympics athletes that would enable them to get out on the golf course and play more often. We have five teams of eight players. The teams play three-hole matches for a flag, similar to the PGA Junior League Golf format. Each player has a unified partner (a person who helps the Special Olympics athlete out on the golf course) and also competes. The teams play one another in heated competitions, which really helps them get excited about golf and prep for the New England PGA Section / Special Olympics tournament here at the Braintree Municipal Golf Course at the end of the season. The teams also compete against each other each week in various skills, such as driving, pitching and putting. In addition, we have set up matches with other courses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as traveling events.

On average we see 40-60, or roughly 50 percent, of our participants coming back to practice on their own. Our program is offered at no cost, as we’ve had several donations from generous individuals in our town. Each Special Olympics athlete has a unified partner to play with. We have found that many times this unified partner or coach is a lapsed golfer. This lapsed golfer often times has a new perspective of the game and will continue to utilize our facility and drive revenue. They see the spirit of the game and how golf can be more fun.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email bbeach@braintreema.gov

Editor’s note: The above comments reflect the opinion and experiences of the submitting PGA Professional and are not endorsed by PGA Magazine or the PGA of America.