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The SA Disabled Golf Association (SADGA) will use the Sunshine Tour’s new match play tournament to gain exposure in an effort to have the sport included in the Paralympic Games.
The R2-million ISPS HANDA South African Match Play Championship, which will be played in October, will see disabled golfers competing in their own tournament concurrently with the professionals.
Executive director of the SADGA Eugene Vorster said the event would be a useful tool in assisting to put disabled golf on the map, both locally and internationally.
“This is something as a young organisation, as a young sport internationally, that we’re very grateful for and that we’ve always hoped would happen,” Vorster said.
“We’re still light years away from disabled golfers having a professional tour but I hope I live to see that day.
“One of our big aims is to get included in the Paralympics, which is still a mountain to climb, but this is going to help us tremendously.”
Sunshine Tour marketing and communications director Duncan Cruickshank believes the unique event would help disabled golf follow in the footsteps of professional golf which has been included in the 2016 Olympic Games.
“With golf becoming part of the Olympics, it certainly is the next step that they have, to encourage the Paralympic body to recognise disabled golf,” Cruickshank said.
“I think we’re certainly setting a precedent by having a disabled golf competition within a professional event and we’re quite proud of the fact that we came up with the idea.”
Midori Miyazaki, the executive director of international affairs for the International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS), said their lofty ambitions would rely heavily on exposure.
“The Paralympics is a big, big mission,” Miyazaki said.
“To get golf in there is a long way to go, but I think one of the things we can do is let people know that golf can be played by the disabled and is actually changing the lives of the disabled.
“We’re always thinking about what kind of difference we can make through golf.
“Having the exposure through the Sunshine Tour, through the professional golfers, with their backing – it helps a huge amount.”
“We are thrilled that the Sunshine Tour has a match play event on the schedule again,” Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan said in a statement.
“Match play is such an exciting format, and many players don’t often get the chance to encounter it in tournament play once they turn professional.” – Sapa