Brendan Lawlor is a person who keeps his promises.
In October of 2020, the individual from Ireland expressed to CNN Sport that they aimed to continue progressing for future generations of disabled golfers.
Currently ranked as the top golfer in the world for players with disabilities, Lawlor has impressively hit the ball far across the fairway and beyond the peak, with no sign of it coming down anytime soon.
In the past, he was adjusting to his role as a professional athlete. Since then, 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 victories in disability events in 2021 and risen to the number one spot in the disability golf global rankings.
In the past few weeks, he has assisted Prince Harry in enhancing his golf swing and was the main attraction at a significant new tour for disabled golfers. However, Lawlor’s most treasured experience was during the final tryouts for his nation’s team in the disability golf European Championships.
“Last year in Ireland, there were no golfers with disabilities. However, this year, we had a final trial with seven players, all with a handicap below three. This is truly remarkable,” Lawlor shared with CNN.
“They have all mentioned, ‘we were inspired to start this because we saw you playing The Belfry during your debut on Lawlor’s European Tour, and we see you doing this,'” he elaborated. “It’s a satisfying feeling in your gut to know that people are trying something because you have paved the way for them.”
“I am not concerned with rankings, my goal is to win as many events as possible and positively impact as many people’s lives as I can.”
A new dawn
Lawlor, who hails from Dundalk, a town north of Dublin, was engaged in conversation before the commencement 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 and was chosen as the prestigious location for the start of the Tour. This Tour will feature the top 10 ranked golfers with disabilities and will take place in seven events across six different countries.
The G4D Tour, which occurs two days before the European Tour, is now associated with it, unlike in the past when disability events were overshadowed. Sky Sports has been airing full-length documentaries of each tournament, leading to increased visibility for disability golf.
At the first event, Kipp Popert, ranked second in the world, emerged as the winner. Lawlor came in fourth, trailing the Englishman by four shots.
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Lawlor, the person behind the Tour, hopes to continue spreading this message and potentially reach 10 individuals, which would have a significant impact. The ultimate goal is to grow the Tour and include up to 50 players, with the potential to positively influence the world of disability golf.
“Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone.”
Lawlor’s most recent appearance at Belfry was a comeback to the same course where he gained attention in 2020 for competing alongside major champions Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer, as well as former world number one Lee Westwood, in the ISPS Handa UK Championship. This was a historic moment as it marked the first time a golfer with a disability participated in a professional European Tour event.
Lawlor, who was born with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes dwarfism and a lack of knuckles on the tops of his fingers, embraces his role as a prominent disabled golfer and the potential it presents. However, he and his fellow players strive to not be solely defined by their disabilities.
He claimed that we are receiving significant chances due to our unconventional actions – our abilities with a golf club or golf ball surpass what is expected.
As disabled athletes, we are presented with these opportunities. However, I do not appreciate being labeled and placed in a separate category because golf is a sport for everyone, regardless of ability level.
He stated that the wonderful aspect of our sport is that although we compete in disability golf on a disability tour, if you possess the skill to compete on the European Tour alongside able-bodied golfers, you have the opportunity to do so.
Heading towards success
In September 2019, Lawlor became a professional golfer and joined Modest! Golf Management, an organization created by Niall Horan, a fellow Irishman and musician. Niall, who is also a supporter of disability golf, is now a good friend of Lawlor’s.
“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.”
In addition to his incredibly successful music career, Horan is also a skilled golfer with a current eight-handicap.
Prince of golf
Lawlor has not been the sole well-known individual to utilize a club with Horan. In April, the Irishman provided guidance on swinging to Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Lawlor was advertising the fifth iteration of the Invictus Games, a global competition for injured active and former military members, alongside Prince Harry as a supporter of the Games’ Foundation.
Throughout the day, Lawlor utilized a golf simulator room to provide instruction to veterans from around the world. The veterans shared their experiences of different conflicts, including physical and mental challenges.
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Lawlor stated that the individuals were new to golf and were successfully hitting the ball. He also mentioned that even just one person introducing the game can lead to more people becoming interested in it.
How was the swing of the Duke of Sussex? According to Lawlor, it was not bad at all.
“He took hold of the club and with just a few adjustments, he hit the ball with great success,” Lawlor remarked. “He was a very pleasant individual.”