England and Wales (North) Region
09 May 18
Tony Bennett, who has been based in Portugal for 21 years and director of education and membership for the PGAs of Europe for the last 11, devotes much of his free time to his role as president of the European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA), writes David Birtill.
It’s a voluntary position for the Lancastrian who cut his teeth on the game under the watchful eye of his dad Howard, who was later appointed coach for the Golfing Union of Ireland and helped to launch the careers of Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and many other notable Irish players.
Bennett, a former Leyland and Newark PGA Master Professional, quickly embraced the EDGA and four years ago embarked on a cycle tour of Portugal with his wife Sue to raise funds for the cause.
“Since then the organisation has gone from strength to strength with lots of things happening,” he enthused. “Some really good people have got involved and we have almost 1,000 registered players.
“The golf handicaps vary and we have players of all abilities and recognise golfers with physical, sensory and neuro-developmental disability.
“Some of our wheelchair players have broken the one shot per hole barrier to attain handicaps of less than 18, and it is not uncommon for the arm players to have single figure handicaps.
“We also have golfers with scratch and plus handicaps, normally these are from the leg amputees but not always, as French player Charles- Henri Quelin proves with his plus one ranking.
“The players are very competitive and represent countries from around the world as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Costa Rica.
“Everyone has a tale to tell. A baseball player who had an accident, lost his left leg and then took up golf, a fighter pilot who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, an Aussie Rules footballer who contracted meningococcal septicemia and a lady whose career changed dramatically when struck by multiple sclerosis.
“There are many fascinating stories about how people are coping with their disabilities. We aim to reach more by sharing these incredible stories that can be found at www.edgagolf.com.com/profiles.”
Bennett added: “EDGA is a non-profit association comprising 25 national federations and we aim to help those who until now have either never played or even thought that golf could be a viable sport, to at least have the opportunity to give it a try and also to provide those with impairment more competitive events.”
Meanwhile, the EGA European Championships will be staged on June 6-8 at Troia Golf Resort in Portugal, designed by legendary Robert Trent Jones senior.
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