Why isn’t Golf a Paralympic Sport?

Why isn’t Golf a Paralympic Sport?

A TEAM OF 8 GOLFERS will head off to Norway in June to play 24 hours of golf in order to raise awareness of Para-Golf and Disability Sports.

It is estimated by Government stats that 16 million people – that’s 24% of the population have a disability in the UK.

The marathon golf freeze, is run by The Golf Trust and the project is Project 24 where the 8 golfers will hope to raise enough funds to attract more para-golfers into the sport and also the Paragolfer – a specialised vehicle to help Paragolfers play the game.

The Golf Trust’s vision is the hope that everyone should be given the opportunity to play golf.

The Paragolfer is also a new vehicle designed to help disabled golfers stand to play the game. The 8 golfers will be playing at Lofoten Links in Norway.

Golf has a disability tour and has unveiled its calendar for the new season.

The G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour has unveiled its eight-tournament 2023/24 schedule , with a revamped format that introduces both Gross and Net tournaments for the first time, to ensure that golfers across a wider spectrum of disabilities can compete for glory.

Tony Bennett, President of EDGA, said: “In G4D, elite performance is only sometimes about low scores. It is always about achieving one’s potential and requires consistently executing a complex blend of physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional skills. All G4D players have quantifiable limitations in one or more of these skills that they work hard to negate to produce their best golf. With this adjusted trajectory for the G4D Tour, we aim to showcase that golf is a game for everyone and whatever challenges must be faced, the player pathway is available to all.”

Statistics recently gathered from the Active People Survey conducted by Sport England revealed, ‘over 82,000 people with a disability are participating in golf within England at least once a week.

Similarly, golf, like snooker, has been dubbed by many in the past as an “old man’s sport” (the blogger Rachel in the blog article alluded to it) and to some extent in some clubs/social clubs across the UK, it is not far from the truth still – although participation from younger groups has improved.

According to the World Disability Snooker website info, there have been over 200 people competing on the World Disability Snooker scene. However, considering there are estimated to be 16 million people in the UK with disabilities of some sort, that’s just a drop in the ocean for the sport snooker.

This website reporter reported on the news that people with complex disabilities would be given the opportunity to be more inclusive in snooker. Read that report here now.

HERE IS A BASIC SWING TRAINING GOLF AID FOR ALL..

In golf, for example, there are, occasionally, some draconian and somewhat “silly rules”.

The Scottish Women in Sport blog makes a case for golf being in the Olympics as a Paralympic Sport – as opposed to other Paralympic Sports such as Horse Riding.

The guest blogger Rachel Barton wrote: “‘There is no reason why golf should not be included in the Olympics. It is a shame that having had Golf enter the Olympics, for the first time in 100 years that those with disabilities are discriminated for unknown reasons of safety. If those riding a horse in the Paralympic Games are allowed to enter, then why shouldn’t a golfer in a wheelchair. There is definitely a comparison of safety to be had between a horse and a wheelchair and we all know which one poses more danger.’

On the International Paralympic Committee website, there are 28 Paralympic Sports.

In a series of statistics on the state of play of disability golf – globally, there were recorded 1734 people with a disability from 44 countries registered with the EDGA (2017-2021).

It adds: “Golf is played by individuals with a variety of disabilities and provides numerous benefits. However, there is an underrepresentation of youth, women, and individuals with certain impairments and from lower-income countries. These are the potential areas of opportunity to improve engagement and the inclusiveness of golf.”

Kipp Popert is a top disabled golfer, and at 24 made his name. In a series of articles last year, he did the rounds and this is what he said for the South West Londoner website.

“The 24-year-old, who competes in able-bodied and disabled events was born ten weeks premature and developed spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, which affected the growth and mobility of his legs throughout his childhood and adolescence.”

Popert added: “His summer culminated with another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – the chance to play in the Celebration of Champions at St Andrews as part of the R&A’s celebrations for the 150th Open.

“It was the stuff of dreams,” Popert said.

“I had a 45-minute lesson with Lee Trevino, picked some stuff up from Tom Watson, played with Stewart Cink and Paul Lawrie – money can’t buy that.”

Unable to rest on his laurels, however, he flew out to America that same night to compete in US Amateur Championship qualifying, such is his insatiable desire to compete at every opportunity.”

The English Disability Golf Association website promotes golf as a sport for all and its aim is to get people with disabilities of all levels enjoying and playing golf.

Here is a taster of the impact a Paragolfer vehicle can have on someone experiencing the joys of playing golf…

HERE IS A BASIC SWING GOLF TRAINING AID FOR ALL…

FROM THE MEARNS CASTLE GOLF ACADEMY WEBSITE…

Golfers who were forced to give up the sport because of disability are now able to play again thanks to our revolutionary machine.  Players are elevated from a sitting to a standing position with the Paragolf mobility vehicle.

Paragolf Scotland, in partnership with the Golf Academy, own Scotland’s only publicly accessible Paragolfer.  The £20,000 aids are free to use on the driving range or the nine-hole golf course.

Russell Gray, operations manager at the golf academy, said: “The Paragolfer is like a ride-on buggy that players they can drive towards their ball. The Paragolfer then lifts them into an upright position and allows them to swing and hit the ball as any of us would. It’s phenomenal.”

Being able to play golf again has transformed one of our members, Ryan MacDonald’s, life.  He had to give up the sport when his mobility deteriorated, leaving him using a wheelchair. But the Paragolfer changed all that.

Ryan said: “Finding it was out of this world. I’ll never forget the minute it stood me up and I was ready to take a shot and my dad was standing next to me. I would have given 10 years of my life for that minute.”

Read more of the article from Mearns here now…

This website reporter Chris Gaynor has reported on snooker’s World Disability and snooker events since 2015, and captured iconic moments in the sport’s events locally and on the amateur scene, as well as interviewing a variety of players and promoting the sport at all levels, including capturing a still moment of two wheelchair snooker players playing in a World Disability event at Woking in Surrey – which was featured in the local paper the Woking News and Mail as was other articles from the local snooker scene.

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Chris Gaynor

Chris Gaynor is a writer with 10 years' experience writing for the web. He loves snooker, CSI and loves cycling off tiramisu!