The European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA) has enjoyed arguably its most successful and progressive year yet in improving opportunities to golfers with disability.
According to the EDGA Executive Committee at the recent 2016 Annual Assembly this is due to the “spirit and goodwill of its players, members and volunteers and the growing support of leading golfing bodies and international companies”.
Staged at the excellent venue of Pestana Vila Sol Golf Resort, on the Algarve at the start of December, delegates attending the largest ever Assembly paid special thanks to those organisations, including 18 national golf federations, The R&A, the European Tour, the Algarve Tourism Association and a lengthening list of commercial companies, who are all paving the way for progress.
A key message is that this is an exciting time to get involved with a body which is extending its collaboration with the game’s world leaders, including The R&A and the International Golf Federation (IGF). Progress in aligning golf for the disabled with the tenets of the Paralympic movement while staying true to golf’s core beliefs is being made, as EDGA members strive to have golf become a Paralympic sport by 2024.
With the Assembly held alongside the final tournament of the year – the III EDGA Algarve Open 2016 – the EDGA Executive Committee heralded all EDGA players who have competed in any of the 12 Tournament Series events as the flag bearers who are proving that ‘Golfers First’ can enjoy, compete and win at ever-higher levels (there were just four such events in 2013).
Along with fellow guests the IGF, the European Golf Association was present to offer valuable insights into how EDGA’s ideals can be supported across the Continent, while two national federations, Golf Australia and the Costa Rica Golf Federation, were warmly welcomed into the EDGA family as Affiliate Members.
Increased numbers of players took part in the EDGA Tournament Series 2016 while there is continued development of the ‘Ranking for Golfers with Disability (R4GD) supported by PING’, thanks to financial backing and advice from this world-famous manufacturing company. Some 267 players from 24 countries are now registered in the Ranking.
Pieter van Duijn, Vice President of EDGA, said: “For many important reasons this is a very exciting time to become involved in EDGA and its goals. We would like to offer a particular thanks to the Algarve Tourism Association for supporting this event and also to the Portuguese Golf Federation for providing the excellent trophies for the players. Internationally respected golf apparel brand Glenmuir has been the Apparel Sponsor for this tournament and we were really delighted with their service.”
Pieter added: “Most of all though, we want to thank the brilliant attitude of the players, their friends and families all through the year. It is a privilege for our committee, staff and volunteers to serve them.”
As for the tournament itself, a torrential night and day of rain cancelled the final round, with the nevertheless deserving winner of the Gross category being Charles-Henri Quélin of France. He hit 16 greens on the way to a first-round 73 which beat his nearest challenger by eight shots. All the results can be found at www.edgagolf.com
During the workshop sessions, PGA Inclusive Golf Tutors Craig Thomas and Mark Taylor delivered a two-day inclusive golf training workshop to 22 Professionals from the PGA of Portugal. The coaches received training, advice and good practice in all facets of inclusive golf coaching to help other golfers in their areas.
The experience at Vila Sol also aimed to provide a definite legacy to encourage new golfers in Portugal – a project supported by the European Tour as EDGA was given Official Charity status at the European Tour’s recent Portugal Masters. At this event, six EDGA players were guests of the European Tour and gave demonstrations on the driving range and putting green together with a group of Portuguese juniors. With TV commentary from Ken Brown this activity created strong profile for EDGA, a real highlight of a great year.