From the early nineties on disabled golf developed in quite a number of European countries rapidly. The interpretation of the word “disabled” at that time, however, varied in each country; experience in organising tournaments and support from other sources were still in its infancy. Each country in each tournament decided who were allowed to play, ranging from wheelchair players, amputees and blind players to players with diabetes, deafness and “les autres”.
Strokeplay and stableford, based on physical disabilities or playing handicap, were mixed in wanted and unwanted varieties. Players with divergent disabilities, common and uncommon, appeared in tournaments and championships around Europe. Players grumbled and resistance was made at price giving ceremonies with the appearance of winners with a vague disability.
Socializing elements, curiosity and playing capabilities were the binding factors of success, however, the cry for equal standards of tournaments and objective controlled definitions of impairments were heard more frequently. In 1998 an international Working Group was formed by committed officers from the Netherlands (Pieter van Duijn), Sweden (Kalle Roos) and Germany (Klaus Ahrens) to prepare the starting points for a co-ordinated body.
In the summer of 1998, during the Swedish Open for disabled players at Halmstad Golfklubb, Tylösand, Swedish Orthopaedic Surgeon Peter Köhler presented his “Definitions of impairments” as a long wanted answer for equal rules regarding the minimum physical disabilities for entering tournaments. This just and fair considered document was accepted as being the standard for organisers of tournaments as being vital to create fair competitions.
To ensure continuity in future the Working Group prepared the founding of an international identity. As a result of this the European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA) was founded in Wiesbaden, March 2000, by organisations from 6 nations: the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France and Iceland. The Association is working on an international scale, seeking expansion world-wide. EDGA was re-registered in the Netherlands recently.
Since then the association was enlarged to 15 nations in 2008, trying continuously to spread the word that people with physical limitations are fit to play the game of golf as it is.
From 2004 and on EDGA was recognized by The R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) and supported by them since then. In principle EDGA covers all disabilities. Early 2008 EDGA sought co-operation with the PGAs of Europe to create an advanced course for Professionals to teach people with physical limitations. This course is expected to be published in the second quarter of 2009.
Voorhout, 1st November 2008
Pieter van Duijn, EDGA Secretary/treasurer.