The world’s elite able-bodied golfers will have the chance to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, but there are currently no plans in place for disabled golf to follow suit.
England’s disability manager Jamie Blair admits there are several obstacles to gaining Paralympic recognition, but he is confident these can be overcome.
As the world’s top disabled golfers have gathered for one of their Tour’s biggest events. the Disabled Individual Championships in Lincolnshire, Blair is looking at ways of having as many players included as possible.
He told Sky Sports News: “There are some challenges around what we would call measureable impairment, and how to compare players to make sure it’s fair. That’s what IPC’s classification systems would always do.
“It would be difficult and there’s the complication of medical and including diagnosis. Potentially it can restrict and exclude some people, but we want to make sure golf is as inclusive at possible.
“We’ve had good discussions with the European Disabled Golf Association, who are leading in this area to widen their events to include more disabled people from different impairments.
“If we can get it right and working and pull the partners round, talk through the problems and the issues and address them, we’ll have a system which we can present to the International Paralympic Committee and look at how we can include it in the future.
“It is about learning and making sure we can include as many people as possible so we can present a good, solid argument to the IPC as to why golf should be there.”
Another problem Blair is looking to resolve is the decline of disabled golfers since last year.
“There have been a few factors which have affected our participation figures as a whole,” he added. “There’s what we call ‘broken habits’, the weather, being able to get out and find value in your golf membership.
“We aim to find out how many disabled golfers we have playing, and we need to understand their needs.
“We need to highlight the events that happen and show disabled people what they can achieve. Golf has an image which probably hasn’t worked for us for a number of years and we do need to change.
“We need to realise that golf is different to everybody. To some it’s 18 holes, to some it’s nine holes, to some it’s just getting onto the driving range or just down to the pitch-and-putt. Golf has changed and we really need to get that message out there.
“We’re looking at shorter formats of the game, teeing it forward, all these ways that people can just get started. You don’t have to tee off the whites, the yellows or the reds, you can start off the purples at 100 yards.
“It’s working with those partners in this network to find out what they want to achieve and how we can support it as well.”