New South Wales professional Brendan Barnes has been named the Special Olympics Australia coach of the year.
Barnes, a PGA member based at Sawtell Golf Club just south of Coffs Harbour, was afforded the huge honour at last week's Special Olympics Australia National Games in Adelaide, where he was coach of the NSW state team.
SOA chief executive Corene Strauss made the presentation in front of the 17-strong NSW team during the closing ceremony.
With more than 20 years of experience as a PGA pro, Barnes' expertise has been a boon for Special Olympics athletes, encouraging and inspiring local athletes to achieve their personal best.
He has developed a Golf Academy at Sawtell for athletes of all abilities, integrating many members into the club's regular weekly competition and recently travelled as coach to the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters event.
Golf Australia national inclusion manager Christian Hamilton was full of praise for Barnes and his tireless work around inclusive golf in particular.
"This is a big award for Brendan given the amount of sports combined with more than 50 Special Olympics clubs around Australia," Hamilton said.
"It also highlights the good work golf is doing to work closer with Special Olympics to make golf a game that is playable to all."
Barnes will also play his role in the next phase of that relationship.