After breaking his neck in a freak rugby accident, Ray Tuffin’s life would change in a completely different direction.

He could no longer serve in the army and he needed his cervical spine to be fused. He had tingly hands as a result of the accident and was at a loss as to what he should do next. This is where his journey with golf began.

Tuffin has always been active and has always had an interest in golf. After the accident, he started putting as it was one of the few things he could physically do. He slowly built up to chipping and has clubs with thicker grips to help him swing the club. He joined the Mornington Golf Club and has been a member for around 20 years.

Now, he works as the Community Development Manager at the Wellington City Mission and is opening the 10th sports bank in Wellington, working closely with regional sports bodies to provide sporting equipment primarily for young people in poverty.

He’s also on the board of the New Zealand Amateur Sport association who have aspirations of taking the sports bank concept New Zealand wide.

When he was President of the Mornington Golf Club, he started coaching and had a goal of getting more women and young people into golf. He took First Tee and piloted programmes into schools and fell in love with it.

Through the programme, he teaches setting goals, establishing values, and course management. He’s seen incredible changes in behavior of young people, and it made him realise that for kids with a disability it wasn’t about what they couldn’t do, but it was about what they could do.

He’s since transitioned into coaching All Abilities golfers with kids and adults from age seven through to 50 all participating in his lessons.

In the All Abilities sessions, both he and his wife Suzie have created their own way of bringing golf down to the persons level with three, six, nine, and 12-hole options. This allows them all to come off the course with a feeling of success. Some participants never get past three holes, but they still turn up every Saturday to participate. For others it’s a good progression.

They use adaptive games, SNAG and standard clubs, and believe "it is not just the game but how the game is delivered." You need laughter and fun.

Tuffin has developed his own tools and games, where the participants can be competitive.

“It's about educating the kids as many have difficulties learning and we talk about values and through golf we can help them apply it in their own personal lives,” he says.

A game the older participants play is called STAR; Stop, Think, Anticipate, Respond.

They also run two to three tournaments a year for the all abilities players play with able-bodied golfers. They play in best ball in pairs which helps build their confidence. The tournament(s) are continuing to grow every year and now more and more members are putting their hands up to be involved.

The most rewarding part of the role for Tuffin is seeing improvement in his all abilities students golf, as well as their quality of life. They have developed a strong connection with the game and their peers.

It is amazing how Tuffin’s accident change the course of his life; now he’s impacting on others lives in a way he never though he would.



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