Ella Baker, aged 12, is one of the remarkable young people who are Golf Ambassadors for England Golf and the Golf Foundation. Here she tells how golf has provided her with an escape route from disability and how, as a volunteer, she shares the benefits of the sport with others. Ella is a member at Warley Woods Golf Course in the West Midlands and a young leader at the GL Golf Academy there.
Why did you get into golf?
I got into golf through my dad. I did and still use golf as an escape route from both mine and my brother’s disability. I am also a young carer as my younger brother has a rare genetic disease called CNKSR2 (only six people in the world have this condition).
I chose golf because I didn’t want my muscle condition (Myasthenia Gravis) to change my personality. I picked golf because it has a perfect balance of being relaxed yet I still have to work hard to achieve all my dreams.
What do you like most about golf?
I love all the doors that golf opens up for me. I have made loads of friends from helping out at my local golf club or just going for a round of golf then bumping into someone.
What do like least?
I am not that keen on how formal golf clubs are because in my opinion a golf club should be a chilled out place where I can just be casual with friends, instead of being told off by the elderly because I’m talking too loud.
Tell us about your volunteering?
I’m currently an England Golf ambassador, helper at both Hagley and Warley Woods Golf Clubs, social media head of GL Golf Academy and OOB golf clothing line ambassador for the West Midlands.
Golf has impacted me both mentally and physically. I think that a young person can gain many things through golf like confidence, social skills and fitness improvement.
I love being able to give people the confidence and self-esteem to try a new thing like golf. I love bringing fun stuff to golf. One time I did an 80s golf day with the students, other times we will play either cricket or rounders golf.
I spend a lot of my time trying to plan events and making the kids’ life in golf more fun.
With England Golf I have helped out at the golf sixes match by running the tri-golf tent. I have also attended the BMW Wentworth PGA Championships and I am hoping to go to the wheelchair golf games to help people out there.
What do you think you’ve achieved through volunteering?
Before I started golf I felt lonely and as if no one really understood what I was going through, yet with golf I have made friends and opened doors for myself and others. I grew my confidence majorly, as a result I did an assembly to 360 kids about the impacts of golf and how it can be a fun time. Recently I spoke to GCSE students about the financial difficulties of our world and how you don’t need a lot of money to play golf.
I am currently hoping to open up a disability respite golf charity where disabled kids can go for 2-3 hours to give their parents a chance to have a break. When I am older I wish to be a genetic scientist as well as the founder and chief of my charity.
I don’t think I could ever stop volunteering. Once you start you can’t stop!
• Inspired to follow Ella into golf? Visit www.getintogolf.org to find out about low cost or free beginner activities across the country