From teenage dreams of professional golf to the 2019 Masters Games in Cairns, Empower Golf and the Paragolfer have helped Shem play the sport he loves. We hear from Shem and Empower Golf about this above-par opportunity for the sports-mad.
“I was made aware of the premise of Disabled Golf 12 or so months ago thanks to ‘Empower Golf,” says Shem, who became a paraplegic when he was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident in 2004.
“I remember the first time I stood in an upright position (with the aid of the Paragolfer). I had a driver in my hand looking down at the teed up ball I was about to slice into the trees and thought to myself that this was by far one of my fondest moments of the last 15 odd years. It brought me back to my younger teens when Mum or Dad would drop me off to the Golf Club after school. I would walk the 18 holes with my CD Disk-man in ear dreaming about one day being the next Greg Norman. Fast forward to today, and this newly found passion is alive again and has since allowed me to play in the 2019 Masters Games in Cairns.
“The physical side of things is an amazing feeling, however what really attracts me is the mental health benefits I receive every time I get into the Paragolfer. Living with a disability is hard enough at the best of times, but in golf I have now found another outlet where I forget about the trials and tribulations of normal life and simply enjoy it. This never would have happened without Empower Golf and the amazing work they do for hundreds of people like me. So to them I say, Thank you!”
Sounds up your alley? Empower Golf tell us more.
Is Empower Golf unique to Australia?
Empower Golf Australia was founded by Australian James Gribble after he became a quadriplegic in 2008, with the aim of changing lives through the medium of golf. The Paragolfer is used around the world, but James Gribble was the first to introduce this incredible machine to Australia.
Can anyone do it?
The Paragolfer truly makes the impossible possible. It is an all-terrain revolutionary mobility device which manoeuvres individuals – particularly quadriplegics and paraplegics, but also amputees, the deaf, the blind, those with cerebral palsy, brain injuries, vision impairments and so on – into a standing position to replicate a full Golfing experience. Even though it is regularly used by people with high level spinal cord injuries, it can also be used by anyone with mobility or stability issues.
Empower Golf empowers individuals with choice.
How does this work for someone who uses a wheelchair?
Transferring into and out of a Paragolfer is much like transferring into or out of any other wheelchair, but with the added advantage that it is very stable. Once transferred into the Paragolfer and securely seated, the Paragolfer safely and slowly manoeuvres you into a standing position to replicate a full golfing experience.
What are the benefits of the sport?
Golf is a wonderful form of rehabilitation and recreation. Its unique handicap system allows individuals to compete irrespective of age, gender or ability. Golf delivers physical and psychological benefits and a sense of community, all of which are key for overall health and quality of life. It enhances physical and mental health and allows social interaction without barriers for the less able.
Where can people try Empower Golf? Can they do it casually?
Empower Golf run regular clinics around Australia and pop up clinics in remote areas if there is enough demand. People can try these clinics as a one-off or can come as much as they like. They are a great way to introduce new people to golf or to reintroduce former players to the game they love after an accident or illness.
At every clinic, Empower Golf will provide golf clubs, golf balls and tees, along with golf-related adaptive equipment. Friends, family, partners and/or carers are always welcome at a Come and Try Golf Clinic.
Where people can keep an eye out for information about Come and Try days?
You can try a ParaGolfer at any of our regular Come and Try Golf clinics. Click here to view our events and book online. Please note some clinics will change due to COVID 19. Our website and Facebook pages will be updated regularly.
Can you hire a Paragolfer?
Paragolfers are available for use (just like a golf cart) at designated Empower Golf Hubs at Moore Park Golf Club, Long Reef Golf Club, The Ridge in Sydney, Parkwood on the Gold Coast, Sandhurst Golf Club in Melbourne, Wembley Golf Club in Perth and Tasmania Golf Club in Hobart.
The ParaGolfer is able to access most areas of the golf course. Its low-pressure tyres and wide stance allow it to be used on all areas of the golf course (including greens) and on the driving range and practice area.
Can you get lessons through an NDIS plan?
Empower Golf is registered as a service provider under the NDIS scheme.