PGA Professional Darrell Dalton returned to Nambour Golf Club in early 2014 to coach clients and run the Junior Golf Program. His wife Michelle took a position with a local Upholstery business just down the road.
Darrell received a call from the Special Olympics Sunshine Coast Regional Sports Coordinator Shirley Hastings that same year. Shirley was wanting to offer a Golf Program for a few of their athletes with intellectual disabilities but had not had much success.
Darrell quickly answered and was very happy to start up a small weekly program. He made arrangements with Tanawha Valley Golf and Tennis Club, a privately owned Par 3 next to the Botanical Gardens.
MP Fiona Simpson cut the official ribbon that started the Golf Program, and so the story begins.
Special Olympics had suggested two to three athletes would be a good turn out. Darrell and his new Golf Volunteers were surprised when 18 excited athletes turned up at the Come & Try!
In May 2015, Golf Programs Australia Incorporated was registered and approved with the ACNC.
A wonderful dedicated Committee supported the fledgling charity, and many remain with GPAI to this day. GPAI rented its first office at the Old Ambulance Station and Michelle opened this up as a Special Olympics Membership Office.
From there, the weekly program has grown every year, until 2022 we have over 40 registered athletes on our books. Not all turn up each week as they have other activities on at times. Our usual turn out is 22-26 at each program.
As Darrell and Michelle worked with the athletes and met their families, a strong bond of friendship began. Michelle says “And as we met in summer and winter months we talked, and learned a lot about our athletes and their lives.”
Each parent or guardian had a similar burning question. What else is there for my son or daughter or brother-in-law?
And although there were activities and some were very successful a number of our athletes didn’t quite fit the box. And that is how the Nambour Retail Store, Office and Basement Studio became a reality.
Listening to the families and creating opportunities as an extension to the golf experience was a great success. Darrell states “We already knew our athletes, and it was a seamless transition into our Retail, Creativity and Business Program”.
The Purpose Built Golf Facility
In Australia there are approximately 4.4 million people living with a disability with approximately 600,000 Australians having an intellectual disability
Our charity provides specialty golf programs for people with intellectual disabilities. We have 45 registered athletes able to attend our weekly program. PGA Professional Darrell Dalton has inspired many people to give golf a try and families have been surprised at the results. The friendship, the training, the exercise, the competitions and rewards make it very special and very inclusive.
Our charity offers training in retail, business and creativity, available only to athletes as an extension to their experiences. With few meaningful training and work placement opportunities for the intellectually disabled we felt uniquely positioned to create an environment of learning and it has been a success.
“Our vision” is to establish a “World First” Purpose Built Golf Facility created to provide substantial training and work placement opportunities specifically and uniquely for the intellectually disabled. Unlike any other facility, this unique custom designed complex will provide a one stop shop to support this sector as a matter of priority. This facility will be open to both the disability and general public, providing high quality training & employment for people with intellectual disabilities.
Purpose Built Golf Facility – Sunshine Coast Training available in all AREAS:
• 36 Bay Driving Range Complex (2 Tier); 18 Hole Pitch & Putt Golf Course
• Mini Golf Centre (Putt Putt); Indoor Golf Simulator; Warehouse Facility
• Greenkeeping Facility; Grey Nomad Rest Area
• 8 to 10 Onsite Cabins (Corporate Team Building – State, National, International Golf Visits)
• Café & Event Centre
• Car Wash; Creative Retail Store & Office; Charity Golf Pro-Shop
• 2 – 3 Disability Industry Service offices and more
PBGF Training and Work Placement Opportunities
• Green Keeping and Grounds keeping (Driving Range, Golf Course, Surrounding Grounds & Garden Areas, Gated Community)
• Hospitality (Café & Events Centre)
• Retail (Pro-Shop, GPAI Office & Store, Café)
• Housekeeping (Onsite Cabins)
• Warehouse & Store (Inwards / Outwards Goods & Charity Donations)
• Carwash & Detailing (Visiting Patrons)
• Nursery & Greenhouse (Tree, Plant & Herb Cultivation) (Café & Facility)
We intend to build a State of the Art Golf Facility in every state and territory. Our first PBGF will be on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Purpose Built Golf Facility (PBGF)