EDGA, the international body that encourages people with disability to thrive through golf, is celebrating its 21st birthday this week.
The organisation, formerly known as the European Disabled Golf Association, is making strides as a 21 year old, as it aims to help 500,000 people with disability to try golf and enjoy the game. EDGA will use this special anniversary year to spread awareness of the considerable physical and mental health benefits of the sport, and to grow the game for all players with disability all over the world.
Since being established in 2000, EDGA has grown from a determined group of pioneers with a shared vision, to a significant international not-for-profit volunteer-based association, with a membership of 31 National Golf Federations.
Thanks to a commitment to fairness, creativity and hard work, and the extensive medical knowledge shown by those early pioneers, EDGA has evolved and is recognised today by The IGF, The R&A, The EGA, the European Tour, the Confederation of Professional Golf, the Golf & Health project and others, as a vital hub of expertise concerning golf for the disabled.
EDGA supports the game’s major international organisations and its own member national federations with guidance, coaching and eligibility standards, resources to grow participation and media assets to spread awareness.
International tournaments (normally 50-plus each year) are a focus for 1,600 registered competitive players, while the largest percentage of people EDGA supports are actually non-competitive players looking to enjoy the sport and thrive on their own terms.
The 21st birthday celebrations for EDGA tee off formally on March 9 with a special podcast led by EDGA President Tony Bennett.
Bennett said: “We would have loved to stage our 21st anniversary celebrations at a party in public. However, in a series of online opportunities we are really looking forward to celebrating the early pioneers and also the many recent volunteers who have done so much for EDGA. We will also be thanking all the EDGA players for their integrity and passion for the game, our ambassadors: the European Tour’s Paul Waring, Nick Dougherty and Tony Johnstone, and Carly Booth of the Ladies European Tour, for their strong recent backing, and all our partners and supporters who have helped to put EDGA in a great position in our anniversary year.”
The 21st birthday celebrations will include a discussion of the 44-minute documentary film MULLIGAN (a story about hope and determination, featuring six EDGA golfers, that has so far reached 138 million homes in ten countries – watch at https://edgagolf.com/online/media/), while a number of key supporters of EDGA have volunteered to each introduce 21 brand new players with a disability to the game in the months ahead, and share their story.
Other highlights include an article on the history of EDGA by former General Secretary Pieter van Duijn, a pictorial tribute to 21 EDGA golfers with disability, a fun social media challenge based around 21st birthdays, and a lively reader competition courtesy of Women & Golf.
On March 9, there will be a special anniversary edition of the regular EDGA ‘Tough Love & Second Chances Podcast’ with Manuel De Los Santos, a player who embodies the whole philosophy and spirit of the golfers involved in EDGA.
Finally, it is hoped that despite all the disruption and pain caused by Covid-19, EDGA will still be able to put its badge on 21 or more tournaments in 2021, an ambitious goal but one the whole team is working towards.
Pieter van Duijn said: “Today, EDGA is helping more players with a disability to feel fantastic on a golf course, playing with friends, while learning more about themselves in the process. Twenty-one years ago the organisation started as a collection of ideas, best intentions and goodwill. It was tough but exciting in the first decade, fighting the hard yards which enabled the growth of the clear-sighted, organised international body of today that can reach out and offer support, and ensure a positive future for thousands of players with a disability.”
Aimi Bullock, Development Director of EDGA, said: “The plan for the future is simply about improving the sport further and increasing access for all golfers with disability, however they need our support on their journey. This could be a volunteer, or golf coach, helping a patient who has had a stroke to putt on a green, to build their confidence, or helping an amputee golfer to compete to their full potential in a top international event. The EDGA team will keep striving and is here for everyone.”