Brendan Lawlor keeps his promises.
In October 2020, the individual from Ireland informed CNN Sport that their goal was to continue the momentum for future generations of golfers with disabilities.
Lawlor, currently ranked first in the world for golfers with disabilities, has hit the ball far and high across the fairway, and it seems like it will continue to soar for quite some time.
In the past three years, he has been adjusting to his new role as a professional athlete. In that time, the 25-year-old has made history as the first golfer with a disability to participate in the European Tour. He has also achieved three consecutive wins in disability events in 2021 and has risen to the number one spot in the disability golf world rankings.
Over the past few weeks, he has assisted Prince Harry in enhancing his golf swing and was the main attraction at a significant new tournament for disabled golfers. However, Lawlor’s most treasured memory may have been at the last tryouts for his nation’s team in the European Championships for disabled golf.
Lawlor shared with CNN that the progress made in Ireland’s disability golf community is remarkable. From having no players last year, they now have seven players with a handicap below three. This is an incredible achievement.
“They have all expressed that they were inspired by my performance at The Belfry during my debut on the Lawlor’s European Tour,” he shared. “It’s a great feeling to know that I am paving the way for others and motivating them to try new things.”
“I am not concerned with rankings. My main goal is to compete in as many events as possible and positively impact as many individuals as I can.”
A new dawn
Lawlor, who hails from Dundalk in the northern region of Dublin, was engaged in conversation before the launch of the first ever Golf for the Disabled (G4D) Tour at the British Masters.
The Belfry, located in Warwickshire, England, has hosted the Ryder Cup four times. It was chosen as the venue for the launch of the Tour, which will feature the top 10 golfers with disabilities competing in seven events across six countries.
The new G4D Tour will now be associated with the European Tour and take place two days before it. Previously, disability events were overshadowed by European Tour events. Thanks to full-length broadcast documentaries on Sky Sports, disability golf is now receiving greater visibility than ever.
In the first competition, Kipp Popert, currently ranked as the second best player in the world, emerged as the winner. Lawlor came in fourth, falling behind the English champion by four shots.
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Lawlor expressed his belief that consistently spreading this message and positively impacting just 10 individuals can have a significant impact. He also has hopes of growing the Tour to include up to 50 players, with the goal of creating a ripple effect for disability golf.
Everyone can play golf.
Lawlor’s recent visit to the Belfry was a comeback to the course where he made waves in 2020 by competing alongside renowned golfers Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, and Lee Westwood at the ISPS Handa UK Championship. This was the first time a golfer with a disability participated in a professional European Tour event.
Lawlor was born with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes short limbs and missing knuckles on the top of his fingers. He embraces his role as a prominent golfer with a disability and the possibilities it offers, but he hopes that both he and his fellow players will not be solely defined by their disabilities.
He stated that we are receiving remarkable opportunities because we are doing things that are not considered normal. It is surprising that we are able to achieve what we can with a golf club or a golf ball.
“We are receiving these chances because we are athletes with disabilities. However, I dislike when people label and place individuals in a specific disability category because golf is a sport for everyone and can be played at any skill level.”
“The beauty of our game lies in the fact that although we compete in disability golf on a disability tour, if one has the skill to compete on the European Tour with able-bodied golfers, they are given that opportunity.”
Moving in the correct path
In September of 2019, Lawlor began his professional golf career and joined Modest! Golf Management, a company created by Irish musician Niall Horan. Horan, who is also a supporter of disability golf, has become a good friend to the young golfer.
“He’s changed my life really – ever since I signed, he’s brought me some incredible endorsement deals and has really embraced disability golf,” Lawlor said. “He’s just a genuinely nice chap and he’d do anything to help you.”
Besides having a highly successful music career, Horan also excels in golf, currently playing with an eight-handicap.
Prince of golf
Horan isn’t the only famous face to have picked up a club with Lawlor. In April, the Irishman dished out swing tips to the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Lawlor was advocating for the fifth iteration of the Invictus Games, a global event for injured active duty and veteran military members, in partnership with Prince Harry as a Patron of the Games’ Foundation.
Lawlor utilized a golf simulation room to provide lessons to veterans from around the world. These brave individuals opened up about their experiences with both physical and mental struggles throughout their service.
Steph Curry has started a program where he covers all expenses for young players who are underrepresented in the sport of golf to participate in a tour.
Lawlor explained that the individuals were new to golf and successfully hitting the ball. He emphasized the power of one person to spark interest and encourage others to join the game.
What was the Duke of Sussex’s golf swing like? Lawlor says it was quite good.
Lawlor commented that after giving him a few pointers, the person was able to hit the ball successfully with the club. Lawlor also mentioned that the person was pleasant to work with.