Paralympic Golf: The Case for Why It Should Be
By Kristen Van Aken
As the 2021 Paralympics comes to a close, millions of people around the world have enjoyed watching their country's athletes participate in their favorite sports and bring home an array of well-deserved medals.
With viewers able to watch 23 sports across the Paralympics, the games have showcased sports ranging from wheelchair basketball to judo, archery and powerlifting. Although, while the Paralympics has a lot to offer and inspires thousands all over the world, it's clear that there's still some way to go when it comes to inclusivity and range of athletic programs.
Disabled Golfers Around the Globe Ask: Why Not Golf?
The Olympics has 46 sports for athletes to participate in, double the number of events as the Paralympics, and there are still some mainstream sports that are omitted from the Paralympic games.
While disabled golfers play in professional tournaments across the globe, golf is one of the sports not included in the games, So, why isn't golf represented in the Paralympics?
As part of a growing movement to make golf an official sport in the Paralympics, individuals and organisations have been lobbying for golf to be added to the event.
Thomas Johansson, Owner of UGOLF Academy, teaches and trains golfers at all levels to learn and refine their skills. Throughout his 25-year career, he has taught players with a range of disabilities, from visually impaired to amputee golfers. Speaking in a recent interview with Golf Travel Centre, Johansson said, "I think it's very important to add golf to the Paralympics. Golf is a worldwide sport that anyone can play and including golf in the Games would bring more awareness to the fact that golf is a lot more inclusive than many people think. Many people would be able to relate to how good the athletes are, and it would be easier to get funding to create more programmes for those who need it the most."
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While most advocates can agree the value of adding golf to the Paralympics would be significant, there is still a long way to go when it comes to making sure facilities and committees are accommodating disabled athletes.
"I think there are several practical things that can be improved on most golf courses but what I would like to see is more golf clubs working actively on attracting golfers with different abilities," said Johansson. "Most of us golf professionals live a good life thanks to the game and it's a great way to give back by running programmes for Paralympics or Special Olympics, especially for younger athletes."
Paul Appleyard, World Champion and visually impaired golfer, also comments, "In order for it to happen there have to be some fundamental changes to disabled golf throughout the world. First of all, national and regional governing bodies in individual disciplines, e.g. blind golf, need to become much more closely aligned. The same can be said for governing bodies of different disability disciplines. In other words, blind golf needs to work more closely with amputee golf and so on. Previously there have been too many differentials between governing bodies, not least the handicapping system."
Other golfers and advocates have also voiced concern that if golf is added to the Paralympics, these kinds of changes need to be made in order for the sport to be taken seriously and gain traction.
Pro golfer Ash Harris shares his view on if golf should be added to future Paralympic games. "Yes, but it has to be at the right time, with the right people, and with strong infrastructure behind it. Otherwise, it will become a forgotten sport of the Paralympics and won't be a sport where people watch and are inspired to take up the game regardless of whether or not they have a disability. There is also work to do to support golfers with disabilities who want to turn professional and make a career out of it."
So, as the conversation around adding golf to the Paralympics grows, what do you think?Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!