It was all happening at the Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia emerged from a Sunday thriller with Joost Luiten to claim his third win of 2017...
Q & A with American Golf's Steven Cafferty
Name: Steven Cafferty
Location: East Kilbride
Occupation: Sales Advisor
How long have you been working at American Golf?
Over 5 years now. 3 years at Clydebank, 2 Years at Bearsden & 8 months at EK.
What does your position entail?
Finding the correct product for each customer to suit their ability, whether it be footwear, clothing, hardware or GPS. I also oversee the standard of the store when the VM (Visual Merchandiser) is absent, making sure all the latest products are available and displayed as per Company Guidelines. I also do Custom Fitting, Club Repairs, Deliveries, to name a few.
When and how did you first get into golf?
My dad got me involved when I was about 7-8, took me up for junior lessons at a local golf club (Craigie Hill). Since then, ive always wanted a career in golf. I ended up being accepted into the PGA as the 1st deaf person to do so, but due to unfortunate circumstances, I had to delay my career as a Professional. I moved to Nevada Bob's from Noahs Ark Golf Centre and then onto AG. My knowledge & experience has grown massively with AG, not just on the golf side, but how the business works and what they expect of me.
What are your golfing experiences and highlights?
Winning the Club Championship at Milngavie GC, having my name up on the board in the clubhouse. Just seeing my name every day made me realise I did the right thing in not letting my deafness affect my ability & my life. I've also won the World Deaf Golf Team Championships with Scotland, becoming the 1st European Country to do so. 3x Scottish Deaf Open Champion. Getting to travel the world meeting other deaf golfers with different sign language and culture through European/World Deaf Championships. Selected for TeamGB for 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey is a reward for my hard work and dedication to my game improvement.
What were your experiences like growing up as a budding sportsperson with a disability?
Sometimes it was lonely. I had a bad temper growing up in golf as I often wondered why I deserved a bad round because I was deaf. I blamed everything on my deafness, like it was bad luck. Then I grew up and realised being deaf doesn’t affect my mentality or my ability to hit a golf ball. Due to my temper, i often found myself isolated from other juniors/youths. Even these days, im still missing out but im trying harder to get more involved and usually, the guys I play with are patient! The common stereotype of a deaf person is someone who cant speak well or hear at all. I can hear just about anything and I talk as well as anybody and that can make people underestimate my deafness level, which is profound/Severe. At work, my colleagues took time to get used to me and vice versa, but we all get on well and they all try and involve me in conversations which makes me feel better. I still have moments with customers who are impatient but my colleagues usually support me.
What are you aiming to achieve by speaking out about your experiences?
I hope I can show that by not letting their deafness affect their lives, they can still be happy, positive & not let being deaf bring them down, stopping them from doing what they want to do. I am honest enough to say that there have been moments where I wanted to just give up, but that’s not my mentality. I kept going, and yes there are limits to what I can do, but it makes me appreciate the things I can do even more! If I need help, there is support in place with several Deaf-Supporting companies.
How did you first get involved with GB Deaflympics?
There was initial rumours in November 2016 that I had been chosen as the best representative from Scotland. They wanted as strong a team as possible but being fair at the same time so they felt the best player in each country was the best way. Due to lack of funding/support from UKGOV, we were only able to confirm myself & Paul Waring from England who is a fantastic young player, very similar to me in terms of ability to speak and hear.
What have been your highlights of working with GB Deaflympics?
How determined TeamGB are to have their athletes in prime condition ready for the event. We have a workshop at the end of April for kit fittings and to go over how to keep ourselves properly hydrated and fit, as well improving our nutrition and health. Our Team Manager, Stuart Harrison has a lot of experience with TeamGB & Steve Waring (Pauls Caddy/Dad) have taken the pressure off the golf team, organising funding & other essentials.
How has American Golf helped you with your participation in the GB Deaflympics?
American Golf have been very supportive as they have in the past with other events. Becca from HO has been great in organising free clothing through Nike for both Paul & I. My Regional Manager, Arlene is always interested in how preparations are going whenever she pops in, so its nice to see the support. One of my assistant managers, Craig, actually got the ball rolling with the support at the annual AG Conference!
What advice would you offer to young deaf people looking to get involved in the golf industry?
Decide what you want to do, because there are so many different areas-Sales, Marketing, events, holiday planning etc. But go for it! I've been in the golf industry for over 8 years now and I've learnt so much more than I expected to. I've made great friends, loyal customers & improved my skill levels.
How do you feel the golf industry could aim to be more inclusive of all sportspersons?
With the amount of money being dished on endorsements for pro athletes these days, or even at national level, I'd like to see a bit more support for the disabled golfing community. Im fundraising officer for Scottish Deaf Golf and we may have to fold due to lack of awareness and funding which is a shame. I have managed to raise over £6K in the last 3-4 years to help with the costs for international events which can cost as much as £2K per golfer, which is crazy money to represent your country! Whereas you see some National Elite Squads training in South Africa, Dubai, Spain for warm weather training. I feel there's not just a gap between an average amateur golfer and an National Elite Amateur, but between a disabled National Amateur as well. I hoped winning the World Team Championship would have given us more awareness and support, but it was the opposite. But I wont give up on equality...