By Andrew Wroblewski
The Huntington Town Board voted last week to authorize a long-running golf program for developmentally disabled athletes.
The board unanimously approved a resolution at last week’s council meeting authorizing Special Olympics New York’s Long Island chapter to continue the program at the Dix Hills Golf Course on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 13.
“This has been a great program; it’s one of three golf programs we have on Long Island,” Tim Flynn, director of program for SONY, said Wednesday. “We have one in Nassau County and another one all the way out east so having this one in Huntington, in the middle of the island, is perfect.”
The program, which began in July, has been supported by the town since 2008, town spokesman A.J. Carter said.
Flynn said he looks forward to maintaining SONY’s relationship with the Town of Huntington to continue running the program in the future.
Councilwoman Susan Berland, who seconded the resolution sponsored by Councilman Gene Cook, agreed that providing equal opportunities in Huntington is key.
“It’s incredibly important that we keep providing these opportunities for all of the town’s population, including the developmentally disabled,” Berland said. “Not only does this program teach the athletes the fundamentals of golf, but also proper golf etiquette and how to behave on the course.”
Flynn said SONY prides itself on giving athletes “real, true and credible sports opportunities.”
“When we come to a practice, we want to put sympathy aside and train these athletes just like any others,” he said.
Huntington’s resolution waves all fees for SONY, aside for those related to golf carts, which is of little expense to the town. If schedule conflicts or overcrowding issues arise, SONY has come to an understanding that it may need to limit the program’s schedule in order to accommodate the general public during peak usage periods.
The golf program is run by Mike Lutz and allows athletes to use the driving range and practice putting on the green. Athletes of proper skill levels can play rounds on the course. Flynn detailed an “alternate shot program,” which allows developmentally disabled athletes to pair up with a non-disabled athletes – for example, a parent – and play together through 9- or 18-holes.
Flynn said only a medical consent form is required for developmentally athletes to participate. For more information, visit specialolympics-ny.org.