Special Olympics State Golf Championships

Introduction to Special Olympics Golf
Those who play the game of golf are driven to become better players by experience like hitting a tee shot flush one moment and missing a three foot putt the next. Each stroke motivates a golfer to continue the pursuit of better shots and lower scores. For players of any ability, the opportunity to compete provides the single most compelling reason to practice and improve. It stands to reason then, the more you play, the more you practice.

The strategic plan for Special Olympics Golf states that frequent high quality competition opportunities must be provided to stimulate and sustain athlete participation in the game. Special Olympics Golf strives to provide individuals with intellectual disability the opportunity to play and compete like any golfer. From 1995 to 1999 the number of Special Olympics Golfers in the United States doubled from 3,500 to 7,000. Currently there are approximately 8,000 golfers globally participating in 14 nations.

Special Olympics Golf depends on widespread community based support to identify thousands of volunteers, to serve as coaches, playing partners, tournament organizers, and general program administrators. Additionally, financial resources must be secured to sustain existing opportunities and fund program expansion.

The PGA of America  (PGA) and the United States Golf Association  (USGA) have played a vital role in the development of the Special Olympics Golf program worldwide. Both have sustained the program since the sport was introduced in 1992 with grants from their foundations. Both organizations support worldwide development with links to other professional and amateur associations such as the British PGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland.

The Special Olympics Golf program strives to fulfill the mission and philosophy of the Special Olympics movement. It is a sport that can be enjoyed and played by all, regardless of age and ability.  

"The Game of Golf consists of playing a ball from a teeing ground into a hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules. It is one of the oldest sports in the world, and was originally played by the kings and noblemen on the sandy links in Scotland. Golf is now played by people of all ages in almost every country. Unlike most sports, you do not have to be big, strong, and fast or part of a team to be successful. Anyone — man, woman, young, old, amateur or professional can enjoy the game of golf." 

Attributes of Golf

  • Individualization: No special physique is required to hit a golf ball, so everyone is free to do it however he/she is able. The philosophy of "I intend to make it work" applies here.
  • Sociability: Each personality has needs of interacting and fellowship with others, and our game is particularly adaptable to this desire.
  • Mental Gymnastics: Performance of a physical skill brings great satisfaction to the individual. To some degree decision-making enters into the process, as a result, character building takes place. We must assure that our instructional periods create a sense of accomplishment that is necessity for everyone.
  • Sportsmanship and a Sense of Belonging: Everyone faces success or failure with each shot. The bad must be accepted along with the good. The need to exhibit self-discipline occurs many times. But remember! Golf is still a game, and should be enjoyed as such.

The Special Olympics Golf Coaches and Skills Guide is a resource tool designed to assist Sport Directors, Golf Coaches, Volunteers and Families. Special Olympics wishes to thank the professionals, volunteers and coaches who helped in the revision of this resource. Truly, they have helped fulfill the mission of Special Olympics to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people eight years of age and older with intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.