Historic G4D Open raises bar for disability golf
Eighty of the best disability golfers in the world will compete for the inaugural G4D Open at Woburn, England, this week.
The landmark championship is being staged by The R&A and the DP World Tour with support from EDGA (formerly the European Disabled Golf Association), and is being billed as one of the most inclusive golf events ever staged.
It will see the world’s best male and female disability golfers from 19 countries, nine sports classes and multiple impairment groups compete over 54 holes of gross strokeplay on Woburn’s Duchess’ course, from May 10-12.
Fourteen of the top 20 players from the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) are in the field, including the world number one, England’s Kipp Popert, and competitors from the USA, Australia, Canada, Slovenia, Denmark and Turkey.
Popert, 24, was born with a form of Cerebral Palsy called Spastic Diplegia which impairs the muscular movement in his legs.
“It would be a big deal to win the inaugural G4D Open. Only one person is ever going to win the first one and if I put my name on that trophy then that will be incredible. It will be a memory I will treasure forever,” said Popert.
The field is made up of amateur and professional golfers competing across impairment categories of Standing, Intellectual, Visual and Sitting.
There will be an overall winner determined after three rounds, along with an opposite-sex winner and a gross prize winner for each category.
Spectators are invited to watch the action for free at Woburn. The EDGA is also hosting invited golf taster sessions for people with disabilities from the local community and para-athletes from other sports.
“I hope people watching the G4D Open come away thinking that anyone can play golf. It doesn’t matter what your disability is,” said Popert.
Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said: “We have established The G4D Open to provide a world-class stage for the very best golfers with disabilities to compete against each other and realise their ambitions at an elite level of the sport.
“The World Health Organization states that one in six people has a disability and so we want to show that golf is open to everyone regardless of ability.”
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The establishment of The G4D Open follows on from the inclusion of the Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities into the Rules of Golf at the start of this year and The R&A and USGA’s ongoing administration of the WR4GD.
A symposium is being held during the championship week to bring together national golf federations to discuss important topics relating to the growth and development of golf for the disabled.
In the lead-up to The G4D Open, EDGA has agreed a new three-year strategic relationship with The R&A, becoming its principal service provider in the area of golf for the disabled (G4D).
The partnership, which represents a significant increase in The R&A’s funding to EDGA until the end of 2025, will allow EDGA’s eight-stage development pathway to reach more countries.