Disabled British Open 2016 Held at Ufford Park
On Thursday 15th September, James Hourigan won the 2016 Disabled British Open at Ufford Park Golf Club.
Launched in 2009, the Disabled British Open Golf Championships welcomed competitors from all over the world to take part in what most considered being one of the "majors" within disability golf tournaments worldwide. Hourigan, a bilateral amputee from Dublin came in with 54 Stableford points over the 2 days.
The event welcomes male, female and junior golfers with a wide range of disabilities and golf handicaps to compete together in tournament conditions. There is a maximum handicap of 28 for gentlemen and 36 for ladies, however, for all wheelchair golfers and blind golfers the maximum handicap is 36 and 45 respectively.
Disabled British Open background:
The Disabled British Open started in 2007 in the Surrey/Sussex area promoted by the BBC golf commentator and former professional Peter Allis. It required lots of sponsorship to run in the chosen format. Leading players were invited from the various disabled golf groups in the UK. Hence leading one-armed golfers, leg amputee golfers, blind golfers and wheelchair golfers who play from special adapted electric buggies competed alongside and against each other. This was the only pan-disability golf event on the annual circuit. However, the heavy finance required was not sustainable and it folded a few years later.
In 2014 it was re-formatted by The Handigolf Foundation using all volunteer support. What was needed was moderate finance from The R&A that was to be directed to the disabled players themselves to help out with accommodation, green fees and the cost of Trophies and prizes. A venue with a wheelchair accessible hotel with other activities for non-playing partners and a good golf course was also essential.
Ufford Park Golf Club has met the requirements needed for the last 3 years. The hotel is fully accessible and excellent value for money with very adaptable dining, meeting and recreational facilities. The golf course is challenging for these leading players who would be at The Paralympics if Disabled Golf had been added to the Games alongside able-bodied golf at Rio 2016 Olympics. The swimming pool, health spa, double-decker driving range and "Congo Rapids" crazy-golf course provide excellent alternatives to the main golf event for the non-playing guests of the players.
A "playing assistant" who acts as Caddy is needed for each group over the 2 completion days. These are obtained from the Senior and Junior club members at the thriving golf club on a fully volunteer basis. The players really appreciate the local golfing knowledge from these Ufford Park players.
It is hoped that the event is now on a more stable footing and continue in future years.