Global Edition

Scottish charity to open up golf to wheelchair users

9.11am 9th March 2016 - Growing the Game

33 year old Paraplegic, Ryan MacDonald, who is able to play golf again with the help of a paragolf buggy / machine. Location: Mearns Castle Golf Club, Glasgow. (photo Sunday Post's Andrew Cawley)
33 year old Paraplegic, Ryan MacDonald, who is able to play golf again with the help of a paragolf buggy / machine. Location: Mearns Castle Golf Club, Glasgow. (photo Sunday Post’s Andrew Cawley)

Wheelchair users will soon be able to play golf using specially designed buggies which raise them upright so that they can swing at the ball, thanks to a Scottish charity which is behind the launch of Paragolf Scotland.

Inspired by the Paralympics and disabled golfers during the Ryder Cup, the Glasgow-based Social Care Ideas Factory (SCIF) has helped fund the only two publicly accessible Paragolfers, in partnership with Mearns Castle Golf Academy in Newton Mearns, Glasgow.

Paragolf Scotland will go live this spring, on Thursday, April 14, at a celebrity evening at the Mearns Castle club attended by Anthony Netto, a US veteran and wheelchair user since 1990 who founded the Stand Up and Play Foundation in America.

Charlie B-Gavigan, chief executive of SCIF, said: “These golf machines which allow disabled people, with paralysis to arthritis, to play are very expensive, but we managed to source a reconditioned one which we were able to fund. The Watson Foundation backed us for the second Paragolfer.”

SCIF has been operating since 2006 with the aim of creating a social innovation network to support health and social care ideas. It is funded by the Scottish government and local authorities and also runs its own fund-raising activities.

It is advised by Alexander Sloan, the Chartered Accountant and Business Adviser, which has a commanding presence in the Third Sector and provides specialist services to many of the 23,724 registered charities in Scotland.

Ms B-Gavigan said: “The idea for the Paragolfers arose out of conversations we had with disabled US golfers who had come over for the Ryder Cup in 2014 and were looking for Scottish golfing partners to play with.

“We thought it was a shame that, as the home of golf, we didn’t have anywhere that wheelchair users could enjoy a round. Now Mearns Castle has two units and there is a third Paragolfer in the Lothians.

“This is one of the many activities undertaken by SCIF in which we have been guided and advised by Alexander Sloan, particularly partner Allison Devine, who has assisted us since the charity was established.”

Adviser Allison Devine said: “SCIF really is an ideas factory and this kind of thinking – making it possible for people to participate in and enjoy golf who would otherwise have been unable to – is typical of the way it finds solutions to a diverse range of issues.

“SCIF, like many organisations in the third sector, displays tenacity and resilience as it continues to try to provide more services with limited resources.”

Alexander Sloan, which was established in 1867, will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2017.

Alexander Sloan

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