Deaf Sports Stars18th February 2014

Student from the Royal Birkdale School for the Deaf Appointed Captain of Golf Club

England Deaf Golfer Peter Baker becomes the first ever deaf golf Captain

by Sarah Lawrence

When you grow up deaf, you get used to people telling you, “you can’t do it”. However, being deaf is rarely the barrier you face, it is the attitude and pre-conceptions that people have that hold deaf people back. Thankfully, throughout history there have been some wonderful deaf people who have gone on to prove that deaf people ‘can do it’. I shudder to think where I might be if I had listened to every put me down that has been aimed at me!

In recent months the history books have been added to through the achievements of people like Derrick Coleman (American Football), Bas Lammers (Karting) Elena Yakovishina (skiing) Liisa Kauppinen (Human Rights) and Gerry Hughes (sailing), to name but I few. Not quite on the same international scale but just as meritorious are the achievements of Peter Baker, a 47-years old deaf man from Eastham on the Wirral.

With a hearing loss of more than 55 decibels in each ear, Peter went to the Royal Birkdale School for the Deaf in Southport. Taught orally and to lip-read, Peter was accomplished at cricket and swimming whilst growing up but excelled as a runner. Despite learning to speak, Peter recalls having problems communicating because people had difficulty understanding what he was saying.

Peter also took up golf whilst at school, taking lessons at Royal Birkdale and finding time to play in the school holidays but it was in athletics that he excelled whilst young. Peter represented the GB Deaf Athletics Team in the European Championships in 1984 and 1987, and also competed in the Deaf Olympics in 1989 in New Zealand where he achieved 4th place in the 400m hurdles.

A serious competitive athlete, Peter travelled the world to race and was invited to run in the famous Gold Mile race which featured Steve Ovett, Seb Coe and Steve Cram. As he got older, Peter started to fit in golf around his other sporting activities and was subsequently chosen to represent England in an international match against Scotland in 1994.

Involved in a serious motrocycle accident in 1998, Peter broke his back which prevented him playing golf for three years. Invited to join Ellesmere Port Golf Club before his accident, Peter finally joined the club in 2001 when he could again play competitive golf. Keen to take a part in the administration of the game, Peter joined the Committee in 2005.

Now playing off a handicap of 5.4, Peter has a long list of championships behind him, including being on the winning team three times since 2009 of the Wirral League. Peter has also represented England and Great Britain Deaf Golf in international competition.

Despite these great achievements, it is Peter’s selection as Club Captain at Ellesmere Port Golf Club that is most worthy of praise, achieving a position that has previously been closed to other deaf golfers. “Being Captain is a great honour”, explained Peter, “and I am very proud to be the first deaf golfer to achieve it.”

Having been in and out of hospital for knee operations and other medical conditions, Peter’s nickname is ‘Hoss’. Keen to live up to the expectations heaped upon him with the Captaincy, Peter also has ambitions to return to the England Deaf golf team. “I would love to see England become world champions one day, and I still have an ambition to get back into the top 25 in the world deaf rankings again.”

Peter hopes that his appointment as club Captain will serve to show that deaf golfers can take an active interest in the administration of the game, as well as inspiring more deaf people to take up the game. A true golfing fanatic, Peter collects golf caps but despite being an accomplished golfer, he recalls a time when he hit a tree with a golf ball, which flew straight back at him and landed 25 yards behind where he had hit the ball from!

Commenting on his achievement, Peter said, “I would like to see other deaf golfers join their club’s committee and get more involved. It is a chance to enjoy all aspects of the game and to show that we have as much to offer as our hearing counterparts.”

SLFirst congratulates Peter on his appointment and we wish him every success.

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Stars

18th February 2014