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Airdrie resident helping to coach Special Olympic golfer

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 11:18 am

Airdrie’s Derrick Kellar showed the proper way to putt the ball during a Special Olympics Airdrie golf practice at Collicutt Siding Golf Club in Crossfield on June 24.
Airdrie’s Derrick Kellar showed the proper way to putt the ball during a Special Olympics Airdrie golf practice at Collicutt Siding Golf Club in Crossfield on June 24.
LUCAS PUNKARI/Rocky View Publishing

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Having been a golfer since he was a kid, Airdrie native Derrick Keller has been a perfect fit to be the Coach and Mentor for Special Olympics Airdrie’s new golf program, which takes place every Tuesday evening at Collicutt Siding Golf Club in Crossfield.

“I’m not sure if coach is the right word,” Keller joked.

“I just want to make sure the athletes here are having a good time, and just give them a few tips to help them out, as they are all pretty quick learners.”

“I got involved in this through my mother-in-law (Shannon Punkert) who volunteers with Special Olympics Airdrie and has been on their board of directors for a little while now,” he added.

“They have been interested in getting a golf program going locally for a while now, and it has turned out to be a good experience for everybody.”

The 34 year old, who works a groundskeeper at the South Health Campus in Calgary, was previously the assistant superintendent at Country Hills Golf Club in Calgary for seven years and tries to get on the course as much as he possibly can in his spare time.

“I’ve loved the game ever since I was a kid, and I was pretty good at one point,” Keller said.

“My sister Dani went to Northwood University in Florida and did well down there, so that usually results in her beating me quite handily when we are out on the golf course.”

The competitive aspect of the game isn’t on display when Keller is coaching with Special Olympics Airdrie athletes, as he’s more focused on teaching the basics of the sport.

“Most of the athletes haven’t had a lot of exposure to golf before, so we’ve been working with them on things like having a proper swing, putting on the green, and the etiquette of golf,” Keller said.

“When we finish up in August, we are hoping to go out here at Collicutt Siding and play a few holes, as our goal is to help this program into something that people can be involved with for many years to come,” he added.

Although the first month of the program has been interrupted by rainouts, Keller has had a blast with the athletes that come out to learn about the game, as they have a different approach to the sport.

“Golf can be a challenging game, but it’s also a fun game to play, and everyone here has that attitude as they discover the sport,” Keller said.

“It’s a lot different than how I approach the game, as I try to get the lowest score possible and I’m always worried about making the next shot.”

For more information on the Special Olympics Airdrie golf program, visit


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