Why do we need your support?
A recent Ministry of Defence (MoD) report (UK Service personnel medical discharges) states that in the last five years alone, nearly 12,000 Service personnel were medically discharged as a result of physical injuries, natural illnesses and an ever increasing number of mental health related illnesses. These numbers are still high despite withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and this figure does not include veterans from previous conflicts.
We recognise that there are too many current and ex-military personnel who are falling into a trap of social isolation, as upon medical discharge they are discarding not only their employment but also accommodation and the camaraderie of Service life.
Who are we
On Course Foundation (OCF) continues to respond to a real need for positive provision for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) Service personnel and veterans – supporting their recovery and successful transition to civilian life through nationwide confidence building golf events and opportunities for employment in the golf industry.
Led by our small but dedicated team, our programme of golf activities aims to prevent these deserving individuals from failing to re-integrate into society, restoring self-confidence and providing a sense of purpose and achievement to those who once struggled to see hope in their future.
Because of the handicap system, golf offers a unique platform where players of all skills and capabilities can compete on a level playing field, improving not only their physical, but mental strength too. In our ten years of operation we have seen first-hand that participation in golf can have a profound effect on the mental health and well being of our beneficiaries.
We continue to look for new ways to support our beneficiaries with their re-integration to society and are seeking funding for the first stage of a community based project. We are seeking 12.5% of the overall cost of this project - assisting with the delivery of a two day ASQ Level 1 Award in Coaching for up to 16 beneficiaries, in conjunction with the Professional Golf Association (PGA).
What is an ASQ Level 1 Award?
Taken from the PGA website:
‘’This qualification is available to individuals with an interest in coaching golf, who wish to work alongside qualified coaches (for example a Head Professional) to provide basic technical coaching to beginner golfers. Prior to attending a Level 1 course, all candidates will be enrolled on to an online learning platform that includes all the resources required to complete the qualification. Attendees are given access to learning materials approximately four weeks ahead of the two-day practical course. During this time candidates will be expected to read through the Home Study Workbook in preparation for the course.
The course is broken up into a learning programme on Day 1, focusing on offering good coaching practice guidance, and assessment on day 2. This includes delivery of a 15-minute coaching session and a 45-minute multiple choice questionnaire.’’
Following on from the completion of this award, we are inviting beneficiaries to make use of this within the community, assisting their local golf club professional to coach the following groups;
Disability groups – working with charities such as the Golf Trust and the English Disabled Golf Association (EDGA)where golf is seen as being both fully inclusive and a vehicle for social mobility.
Young people – working with local schools and youth groups, introducing this ‘lifelong game’ in the early stages of life.
Current and ex-Service personnel – supporting the OCF PGA Professionals at our Introductory Golf Events in conjunction with nationwide Recovery Units and Centre’s for Service personnel in the Recovery Pathway and in conjunction with veterans’ charities such as BLESMA and Combat Stress.
Why should you support this project? - Meet Dom
Dom (pictured right) suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was at a very low ebb, however, he has turned his life around after being introduced to the game of golf via an OCF Introductory Event. You can read more about Dom's inspiring story here - Beneficiary Spotlight - Dominic Felton
‘’I look back at the man I was only two years ago; incapable of dealing with the simplest social interaction, unable to deal with decision making – to who I am now. Since being with OCF, the difference is profound’’
After a sustained period of getting his confidence back through the game of golf, he decided to embark on the next stage of his recovery journey. As mentioned in the case study, Dom decided to set up his own veterans’ golf project (OP-V Golf) on the back of his own experience. This then coincided with his participation in the ASQ Level 1 Coaching Award. We asked him about his experience:
Why did you decide to do the course?
I decided to do the course after discussion with the Northumberland Sports Development Officer Andrew Tunnah. During the development of OP-V Golf he felt that the project was promoting the therapeutic and mental health improvements that golf has to offer injured and sick veterans. Given my remarkable progress since being involved with OCF he felt that I would be the ideal role model to show the participants of the course that everything the project was saying about golf can help recovery, not only by talking about it but also in a coaching role.
Did you enjoy the course? How easy/hard was it?
I really enjoyed the course as the teaching role opened up a new aspect of golf to me. I was able to learn about presenting swing techniques, putting skills and health and safety on the range. The class area was a challenge for me as presenting to groups of people is something that I haven’t previously been confident enough to do. I ended up standing in front of a group and showing them the basic techniques of putting which would have been unimaginable to me previously!
The course comprised of a learning period of three to four weeks. Prior to this the PGA sent out a learning pack to explain how to present classes and information on different techniques and skills that were going to be taught. One of the positive things about the course is that you do all of your revision prior to actually taking part. In my case, the course was held at Linden Hall in Northumberland with a recognised PGA Instructor. One of the challenges is that you are unaware of what you are going to be asked to teach as part of your final competence test so you have to make sure that you revise everything beforehand.
Did your knowledge of golf and current experience adequately equip you for the course?
Whilst only taking up the game three years ago I obviously had a very limited experience of playing – never mind coaching it, however, attending events with OCF and remembering the skills taught and the manner it was delivered in helped me greatly during the course. It gave me an idea of how to conduct myself during the lesson and I felt like this gave me a head start compared to the other attendees.
As mentioned previously, the information is all provided and if a person has the motivation, there is no reason why they would not be able to complete it like I did.
What have you done with the qualification? Do you have plans to use it or aspirations to do more e.g. Level 2?
Since getting my qualification I have used it to coach alongside my local golf professional and under his supervision (during the OP-V Golf Project) he would give me instruction of what he wanted me to do within the group i.e. reinforcing the skill he had taught by taking smaller groups to one side and helping them during practice. As the OP-V Project has now ended I have unfortunately not been able to use my qualification any further but I have approached my local golf professional to see if I can help out with the junior coaching. The professional was impressed with my offer and because of the qualification that I have gained I have been told that there is likely to be an opportunity in the near future.
How beneficial has it been to your own golf game?
I have found that my golf skills have improved greatly. Since doing the course I am a lot more critical of myself, but in a good way. I now know why I am making errors and can critique myself on correcting them based on the knowledge that I have acquired from the course. I also listen more intently to golf professionals taking each lesson and have a keen interest in how they present and deliver their information to help my own coaching technique.
How beneficial has it been for your mental health in the long-term?
Since completing this course I have found that my self-confidence has improved greatly. I have spoken at after dinner speeches, travelled to the USA and Spain for both golf and therapy reasons, attended inter club matches and have found myself open and willing to engage with people – telling them about my story, where I was and the progress that I have made in life. All in all I am in a good place and getting better. I honestly never thought that I would be in such a good position in such a short time - all because I took up golf!
On completion did you feel confident that you could use the qualification with, for example, a junior or adult beginner group?
The qualification allows you to work with children as you have to pass a DBS check before attending the course. I haven’t worked with children yet but hope to in the not too distant future. Up to this point I have used the qualification to coach beginner adult classes.
Would you recommend this to a fellow OCF beneficiary? If yes, why?
I would thoroughly recommend this course to any OCF beneficiary who might be considering a teaching role within the golf industry or at their local club. This qualification is a starting point for greater prospects and a better version of yourself. I can attest to this – as can the OCF staff who have commented many times on the improvement that I have made since joining.
Dom is just one of a number of individuals who we aim to assist in gaining this qualification, focusing on three positive outcomes:
Empowerment – taking responsibility
Our long-term aim is to assist our beneficiaries with their eventual re-integration to society and we see this project as a vital component of this. By taking on this qualification, beneficiaries will be required to revise information prior to the date of the course. It is up to each individual how much revision they are prepared to put in, taking responsibility for their own actions.
Once the qualification has been obtained we will then encourage attendees to put this to use within the community, however, it will be up to the individual to scope out their own opportunities. We view this as a change in the ‘behavioural norms’ that were used in Service. The majority of life administration is taken care of by various departments within the military and the importance of this project is encouraging beneficiaries to make their own decisions and be accountable for what they’re doing with a small element of controlling their life again.
Growing as a person and fulfilling potential
We anticipate all 16 beneficiaries gaining this qualification. This should lead to a feeling of personal achievement and self-worth, allowing each individual to become stronger and more confident. Evidence of this is provided within the course where the individual is expected to put the new skills that they have learned into practice – demonstrating various coaching techniques in front of the rest of the group. Although this may initially be an intimidating prospect, taking smaller steps by presenting in front of a smaller group of veterans (like-minded individuals) can be a vital part of rehabilitation and recovery. There is every chance that our beneficiaries will be faced with scenarios like this in a civilian environment when having to find future employment to support themselves and their family.
We view this as the cornerstone of this project. Based on a recent survey of 150 beneficiaries, a respondent rate of 94% said that OCF and golf had improved the quality of their life with the following three most popular answers:
- A sense of camaraderie after medical discharge
- Re-discovering self-worth and confidence
- A positive effect on friends and family
We are anticipating that those who participate in this project will do so with the intention of giving back to golf – a game that has been and is a huge part of their on-going recovery. We want individuals to be driven to use this qualification for both themselves AND the community.
Beneficiaries will be able to use their story about why playing golf has been so good for them – a game that as a result of the handicap system can be played on a level playing field no matter what physical injury, illness or issue that you are facing in life. This will be of particular relevance to vulnerable groups who are supported by various charities, for example, the Golf Trust, Combat Stress etc. This positive message can be used to get people of all ages to be active, playing this confidence building game.