Teaching the Mentally Challenged

By: Pat Church, USGTF Level IV Member
Eugene, Oregon

During my experiences with the Special Olympics golf team the biggest lesson learned has been PATIENCE!!!

Many of the golfers have mental, as well as physical disabilities, so constant repetition is a key to their success and sometimes testing our patience. The practice sessions I use for Special Olympics’ golfers, closely mimic what they will face in their regional & state competitions, thus providing a level of comfort and confidence to them.

In the case of many of the Special Olympic golfers I have trained, the golf swing has been secondary to the fact that I am giving them a chance to have a new experience. I would assume that if a once physically abled golfer becomes disabled, we would be providing the chance to enjoy their “freedom” again.

Perhaps the greatest experience in working with mentally challenged golfers can be the simple joy to their reactions……..sinking a 5 foot putt, hitting a straight shot or just hitting the ball can be the cause for great jubilation!

I strongly recommend to all my fellow teachers – Volunteer some time to the Special Olympics’ program in your area. The things learned with this group will make you a better teacher and your reward will be long lasting!