Study to deepen understanding of disability golf

Disability Golfer in adaptive buggy with Marcel Siem
Marcel Siem and Monique Kalkman riding a paragolfer

A research study will track 200 disabled golfers over a year of competition, gathering insights and data to promote better understanding and make golf more accessible for those with chronic health conditions.

EDGA, formerly known as the European Disabled Golf Association, has recruited a team of sports scientists, PGA coaches and medical experts to analyse golf swings and ball flights at disability golf events in the UK and across Europe.

Dr Roger Hawkes, EDGA Executive Director of Eligibility, is the project leader and says the study aims to better understand how disabilities influence the golf swing.

The findings will be used to develop clearer player classifications for specific impairments and improve opportunities for competition, better health and wellbeing and injury prevention among disability golfers.

“This research will help golf’s governing bodies in the important areas of classification, and sports classes, around different player impairments for events,” said Hawkes.

“Meanwhile, we can all help to include more new players with a disability to start in golf. This project can help more people with different health conditions to enjoy all the great things that the sport offers.”

On-course testing began in January during back-to-back EDGA Tour events at Amendoeira Golf Resort in Portugal.

Researchers used a TrackMan launch monitor to capture 1,100 golf shots from 25 players with impairments including paraplegia, limb amputation, limited mobility and neurological weakness. Metrics analysed included spin rate, clubhead speed and smash factor (calculated by dividing the ball speed by the clubhead speed).

EDGA, a non-profit volunteer-led organisation, believes its findings can help the wider golf industry to better understand and attract more of the 15% of people worldwide who have a disability.

William Wynter Bee, a sports and exercise medicine doctor at University College London Hospital, is part of the research group.

“This research has already put us together with some competitive and talented golfers who love the game.

“We hope we can support the players by way of strong findings from a health perspective, including advancing the cause of fitness and avoiding injury. It will be great if this leads to the golf industry being able to welcome more people with chronic health conditions to play, where regular exercise can make a major difference in their lives.”

EDGA is a key partner in the development of The G4D Open, a pioneering new event for the world’s best professional and amateur disability golfers, organised by The R&A in partnership with the DP World Tour.

The inaugural 54-hole strokeplay event takes place from 10-12 May 2023 over the Duchess Course at Woburn, England.