The coaching ability of Sawtell Golf Club's Brendan Barnes has been honoured by Special Olympics Australia.
The coaching ability of Sawtell Golf Club's Brendan Barnes has been honoured by Special Olympics Australia. Brad Greenshields

Special golfers putting Brendan on a new path

SPECIAL Olympics Australia has recognised the work golf coach Brendan Barnes has been doing developing golfers playing with a disability.

The Sawtell Golf Club teaching professional was honoured at the group's national awards night when he was named as the coach of the year.

Barnes admitted he was surprised when he was announced as Special Olympics Australia's top coach.

"I was because I've only been involved now for two years,” Barnes said.

"I really hadn't had anything to do with disability at all and I didn't know how I'd cope with it.

"I've really had a ball with the kids that I've had and one of them now is the lowest handicapper in Special Olympics in Australia, Cameron Pollard is now down to a handicap of about three and there's noone even close to him now.”

Special Olympics Australia said they awarded Barnes the honour for encouraging and inspiring local athletes to achieve their personal best.

They added that Barnes has developed a golf academy at Sawtell for athletes of all abilities, integrating members of the academy into the club's weekly competition and recently travelled as coach to the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters event.

Although recognised as Australia's best, Barnes himself feels he's only just scratching the surface of the knowledge he needs to be a good coach for all of the golfers with a disability that come under hius tutelage.

"I'm learning all of the time. It's an eye opener for me with everything I do,” he said.

"I've learned so much from Cameron's mother because she's heavily involved with disabiliy as it is and she's sort of guided me all the way through and she's been to every team and training camp I've done. She's basically my sister now and if I didn't have her behind me, it allows to me just coach.”

With more than 20 years of experience as a PGA professional behind him, Barnes said his latest coaching incarnation is changing the way he coaches everybody.

"I've changed my whole coaching philosophy as well because these golfers are so different,” he said.

"Every one of them is an individual case and you've got to treat them all diferently and learn different ways to get your point of view across.

"Some of them just want to have a hit and giggle and just enjoy themselves. Others like Cameron wants to try and pre-qualify for the Australian Open next year,

"So you've really got to monitor everyone in a different way but it's been so much fun, I've got so much out of it.”



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