Sixteen European golfers with disability competed in a highly successful first staging of the RSM European Play-off Series, held at Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club, England.
The Series was designed to reward EDGA golfers (European Disabled Golf Association) who qualified in Europe from the ‘Net’ and the Stableford World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD).
Eight players from each division teed it up in a series of matchplay rounds from quarter-final to final (October 5-7), at the beautifully prepared course at Stratford-on-Avon thanks to the expert green keeping team at this historic Warwickshire club.
The winner of the Net category final was Vincent Helly of France and the victor in the Stableford final was Miroslav Halmo of Slovakia. The 16 players taking part had a variety of more than a dozen disabilities, including limb, spinal, neurological, vision and intellectual impairments.
Vincent Helly, 25, plays his golf at Golf de Moliets in the South of France near Biarritz. He has a handicap of 3.1 and he has autism. To win his title in the Net he beat (quarter-final) Daphne van Houten of Holland (handicap +1.2) and in the semi-final, Stian Halvorsen of Norway (handicap 9.8), before winning the final against Jari Vihanne of Finland (17.1) by a score of 6&4.
Miroslav Halmo, aged 44, plays his golf at Golf Club Meander, near the city of Nitra in the west of Slovakia. Miro has a handicap of 31.8 and was born with a rare condition Hemimelia or tibial deficiency (missing his lower right leg).
To win his title in the Stableford he beat (quarter-final) Timo Pessi of Finland (27.8) and in the semi-final, Magnus Grimberg of Sweden (16.8), before winning the final against Graeme Mazur of England (16.9) 3&2.
The final was contested on October 7 as part of a wider annual RSM Golf Day, and all the EDGA golfers present for the week were invited to take part in the day with assembled guests, helping to grow awareness of inclusive golf in the process.
EDGA was delighted to launch the international Play-off Series this summer to champion golfers with a disability in both Net and Stableford competition, supported by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
RSM announced its sponsorship agreement to support EDGA in 2019, extending RSM’s ambitious partnership strategy within golf and reinforcing its aim to support growth in the grassroots of the sport.
EDGA President Tony Bennett said: “Congratulations to Vincent Helly of France and Miroslav Halmo of Slovakia for their exceptional performances to win their Net and Stableford categories, and well done to all 16 players for making the journey and demonstrating the value of golfers with a variety of impairments playing together, competing to the maximum while being a great advertisement for the sportsmanship and camaraderie of golf.
“We are hugely appreciative that the team at RSM understands the value of our work to grow the game at the grassroots level for golfers with a disability. Helping to make more people aware of this opportunity can be huge for golf and also for the many people it can help through the game’s health, social and competitive benefits.”
Tony added: “This memorable event could not have been possible without the help of some great local volunteers and all the excellent team at Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club who supported all our players wonderfully well, for the whole week.”
Kirsty Sandwell, a corporate finance partner at RSM, said: “What a truly thrilling event to be involved with. The atmosphere on finals day at the tee-off was fantastic. EDGA’s approach to inclusion is something every organisation can learn from. I know that everyone who attended on the day, the guests and RSM team members, enjoyed the special experience that being part of an EDGA event brings. Here’s looking to next year!”
For more information on EDGA see www.edgagolf.com