Exciting News For Europe's Best Disabled Golfers
Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway.
GOLF is meant to be an inclusive sport. Sadly, the headlines have been dominated by Saudi Arabia’s attempts to pour tens of millions of dollars into the professional game, which is already awash with cash.
The aim, we were told, was to grow the game.
It is not the first time that attempts have been made to set up a rebel tour. Some years ago Greg Norman was involved in trying to set up a world golf circuit. It came to nothing. Norman is the front man for the Saudi-backed Super Golf League and, one by one, the world’s leading players have announced that they will not be signing up.
Rory McIlroy insists that the project is now dead in the water, and it is difficult to argue with him. If they cannot attract the world’s best players then the SGL becomes a complete irrelevance.
As the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau were pledging their futures to the PGA Tour and Phil Mickelson was issuing apologies for some unguarded and unfortunate comments, the DP World Tour provided us with some good news, launching the G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour. And we should all rejoice. This is positive news at precisely the time we needed it.
Finally, Europe’s best disabled golfers are being given a proper platform on some of the best courses to display their not inconsiderable talents. The G4D Tour incorporates an expanded 2022 schedule and a package of financial, commercial and media support for the European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA).
As part of the agreement, the 2022 G4D Tour's international schedule will feature a minimum of seven tournaments - increased from five in 2021 - with new events taking place at the Betfred British Masters, the Porsche European Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the Estrella Damm N.A Andalucia Masters. These tournaments are all broadcast live on Sky Sports Golf - hopefully the people who make the decisions will opt to broadcast the action from the G4D events and we can all get to witness these incredible individuals in action.
The DP World Tour, through the European Tour group's Golf for Good initiative, has also committed to a financial support package which will see the European Disabled Golf Association move from a volunteer-based organisation to a semi-professional one. This is a positive step as it is certain to raise their profile.
The season will culminate at the G4D Dubai Finale ahead of the final Rolex Series event of 2022, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, where the qualifiers from the previous six events will battle it out at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 14-15.
Hopefully, we will also be able to enjoy some television coverage of these extraordinary golfers. In time, it is to be hoped that they get to play 72-hole tournaments and perhaps more opportunities to play alongside Europe’s top professionals.
The Golf for Disabled initiative was launched at the 2019 British Masters at Hillside Golf Club when the European Tour group and EDGA committed to holding events on the same golf course and during the weeks of DP World Tour events for leading golfers from the World Ranking for golfers with a disability (WR4GD).
Since 2019, seven events have been held, with players from 15 countries on five continents competing. It’s a start and hopefully it will continue to grow.
The 2022 qualifiers will continue to showcase the inclusive nature of golf while encouraging others to take up the sport.
"We are committed to ensuring inclusivity in the game of golf - one of the key pillars of our business - and this is another chapter in the evolution of our fantastic relationship with EDGA," Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour group, said.
"As has been proven in the two years since we began this partnership, Golfers with Disabilities are deserving of the same exposure and adulation as our DP World Tour players - they are incredibly talented golfers and great ambassadors for our sport. When you watch these golfers play, you immediately talk about their ability rather than their disability.
"That is the reason why we are pushing for golf to be included in the Paralympics, and our enhanced support of the G4D Tour is undoubtedly another important step on that journey."
"For 50 years the European Tour group has been at the forefront of golf performance, and today's announcement is a game changer that will inspire individuals with disability across the globe to try golf for the first time or continue their participation in the game," Tony Bennett, President of EDGA, said.
"We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with The European Tour group. Golfers with a disability at all levels will benefit from this support.
"Together we will accelerate the development of systems, programmes and tools that build capacity in the golf industry, expand delivery of coaching education and outreach sessions in traditional and non-traditional golf venues, and open golf to individuals with a disability.”
The golfers who take part in the G4D have faced huge challenges in their lives. They are an inspiration to us all and deserve this platform and I, for one, cannot wait to see them in action.
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