Tayside has proved the inspiration for America’s first programme which will use the game of golf to help those living with dementia and memory loss.
Later this month, the world-famous TPC Sawgrass course will see the launch of the Pete Dye Chapter Golf Memories group after a leading figure in the US game saw for himself, the pioneering work being done at Carnoustie Golf Links.
The programme has been named in honour of the acclaimed golf architect and Sawgrass designer who is battling Alzheimer’s and is being led by Billy Dettlaff, the former national director of golf at the Florida course which hosts The Players Championship.
It will act as an official sister group to the one which operates at Carnoustie after Mr Dettlaff first saw the work of the Angus project on the Golf Channel during last summer’s 147th Open Championship over the legendary links, and followed it up with a personal visit in October.
Mr Dettlaff, a renowned golf author said: “I have been working with Lorraine Young at Carnoustie, a key volunteer driving the group, and Dr Michael Ego from the University of Connecticut, who both featured in the video footage.
“My visit to the October meeting of Carnoustie Golf Memories Project gave me the confidence we can bring the programme to the US.
“It was an inspiring visit getting to know the individuals, such as Trevor Williamson, the grandson of Robert Simpson, the famous Carnoustie club-maker and professional.”
At Carnoustie, as well as browsing old golf photographs to help stimulate memory, the group has a strong active approach, with participants boosting their physical and mental health in the state-of-the-art indoor simulators in the new golf centre or on The Nestie six-hole junior course.
Dye’s wife, Alice gave her blessing to the name of the first group.
Mr Dettlaff, who is working with two retirement and life care facilities in recruiting members for the Sawgrass group as well as volunteers, added: “I felt it was an appropriate honour for Pete, and she quickly agreed.
“Without Lorraine’s remarkable support and shared materials, I don’t believe our programme would be in a position to begin serving those in the US. Dr Ego’s support and recent visit to TPC Sawgrass has also been invaluable.”
Carnoustie Golf Links chairman Pat Sawers said: “All at Carnoustie Golf Links welcome the development of the inspirational Golf Memories programme and the superb work done by Lorraine and all the volunteers.
“Carnoustie has a long and close history with America and indeed, is often referred to as the ancestral home of The PGA of America, with many Carnoustie pioneers establishing golf in the US.
“We’re delighted to strengthen this bond as an official sister with TPC Sawgrass and the launch of the Pete Dye Chapter.
“Dementia is an increasing healthcare challenge in our society and anything that can be done to provide comfort and support for people living with this condition is to be welcomed.
“At Carnoustie, we have found that Golf Memories has put a smile on the face of all the members as they recall many past golfing glories.”