Sport - Golf - EDGA
EDGA golfers are eligible to compete at high level after expert assessment Image Credit: EDGA

More golfers with disability will be able to enter tournaments and earn World Ranking points thanks to a new training initiative to support eligibility assessors around the world.

An international leader in physical rehabilitation and medical teaching, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab of Chicago is working with EDGA (European Disabled Golf Association) to create innovative digital training and resources to teach new eligibility assessors to accurately assess and to classify golfers with impairment.

In golf, it is common for golfers to play in mixed groups: a foursome could include one golfer who uses a prosthesis, another who had a traumatic brain injury, a third who uses a wheelchair, and a fourth who had a stroke. The correct assessment of a player’s impairment is vital to ensure the most level playing field.

Building on EDGA expertise in this area over 21 years, the programme seeks to ensure accuracy, fairness and transparency between assessor and golfer at all times. A key result will be to enhance the process for individual players as they will need to travel less for their appointment.

The newly eligible golfer will then be able to compete in a growing schedule of more than 70 EDGA-badged international tournaments, which are all supported by the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD), and governed by the The R&A and USGA Rules of Golf.

Drawing on EDGA’s knowledge, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is developing this programme at a time when more and more new golfers with a disability are looking to reach their potential. The objective of EDGA and its partners is to help 500,000 people with disability try the game.

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is creating a 60-minute education and training programme to be delivered online with additional (optional) in-person conference calls, to allow medical assessors – new and established – to access learning and tools to work and share knowledge together across the globe, regardless of time zones. With EDGA’s association of 36 national golf federations, this development will increase the number of qualified eligibility assessors, creating a smoother process for golfers.

EDGA Director of Eligibility Dr Roger Hawkes is leading the programme. Roger said: “From the outset, this partnership has aimed to help eligibility assessors better serve the growing number of golfers with a disability who we want to support, at a time when travel and face-to-face meetings have become more problematic for everyone.

“EDGA has long held the clinical expertise in ensuring fairness, accuracy and transparency in the eligibility of golfers with disability. We needed a partner to channel this expertise and the hard work of so many people into an excellent digital training programme that can be understood by a new cohort of eligibility assessors globally. We have been delighted to work with the team at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, whose skill in developing online medical training is second to none. We have also valued their independent view of our work in eligibility. This partnership has turned a very difficult challenge into an exciting opportunity to help many more golfers with a disability.”

“Engagement in adaptive sports leads to healthy lifestyles and community-building,” said Prakash Jayabalan MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist Director of the Nancy W. Knowles Strength + Endurance Lab at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. “We are thrilled to leverage our expertise and to partner with EDGA to bring golf to more people with disability around the world.”

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), is the global leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation for adults and children with the most severe, complex conditions — from traumatic brain and spinal cord injury to stroke, amputation and cancer-related impairment. The quality of its care and research has led to the designation of “No. 1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991.

EDGA is the international not-for-profit association made up of the National Golf Federations from 36 countries around the world, and provides advice, guidance and standards to leading golfing bodies, including the IGF, The R&A, and the EGA.