Q&A with National Inclusion Manager, Christian Hamilton

Christian Hamilton with paragolfer ladies open
Christian Hamilton with paragolfer at the recent ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open.

You've recently been appointed as the National Inclusion Manager for Australian golf, what will your role will entail?

There’s a few things. First of all we’re really looking to step up the education side of things with PGA members and trainees so that we can establish more inclusion programs at venues, not only in Victoria but around the country. We’re going to be working with clubs to give them information on how to be more inclusive - not only just through disability programs but also making sure that their venues are disability-friendly. We’re also looking at different pathways for people with a disability; tournament pathways through to elite programs.


How long have you been working in inclusion and what got you interested in this space?

I’ve been actively in the space for the last 7 years. I do monthly clinics out at Sandhurst. Before that, I actually caddied for a blind gentleman back when I was 16-17 years of age and that was my first experience working with people with a disability. 
 

What would be your favourite part of the job?

Golf’s an interesting vehicle because of the social inclusion and networking opportunities that golf as a sport brings to the community. It connects different people together and it connects people with different organisations, so seeing that whole peer-support cycle in action is fantastic. Not only does golf contribute to physical well-being through participation in the sport but it also connects people socially.
 

Talk us through the importance of sport in providing an outlet for those living with a disability?

A lot of these people are returning to the sport after a massive life-changing event so golf gives them a sense of independence back a lot of the time. Golf is a sport that they can still participate in. We do a lot of modification equipment and different mobility solutions so just giving people back that independence is really important. It’s also massive for people to reconnect with the community and re-engage with their friends and the golf club through sport and recreation.


How can an individual with a disability get involved with golf? What is the first step?

The first step would be to visit the State and National golf body websites which will have a list of different organisations that people can get in contact with. Shortly we will be setting up a strongly coordinated program of clinics and events that people will be able to engage with. Depending on what people’s motivations are, there will be information on the website as to what clinics are out there and what events are coming up.
 

Golf is back in the Olympics this year. When can we expect to see golf in the Paralympics?

It’s a very strong objective in particular with the world’s disability golf bodies. We’re working together with a range of associations to make sure we tick off the requirements of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). We’ve ticked a few of the boxes already. We have a World Disabled Golf Championship now every 2 years. We’re coming up with a worldwide classification of different disabilities for golf tournaments. We’re looking at a ranking system for people with a disability. We’re slowly ticking the boxes that the IOC needs from us as a sport. I would really like to see inclusion into the 2024 or 2028 Paralympics.
 

What story do you think needs to be shared about Australian golfers with a disability?

I think we under-sell our talent in Australia as far as what we’ve achieved. We’ve had an Australian team win the World Cup of Golf last year in Africa. We’ve got the current World Amputee Golf Champion in Shane Luke who is a member at Bankstown GC in Sydney. We’ve had David Blyth, a blind golfer, he’s been world champion as well. We’ve certainly got a lot of talent here in Australia. Australia is definitely a country the rest of the world admire for the talent of golfers that come out of these different groups and that’s definitely a message that I want to push forward to say that we do have world champions and we will continue to produce them through good strong coaching programs.

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