Appeal by one-armed golfers

A cry for help from president of The Society of One-Armed Golfers to help with launch of Ryder Cup-style match between disabled of Europe and the US

Appeal by one-armed golfers
One-armed golfers
One-armed golfers competing in the World championships at Tynecastle in August

We've all tried swinging a leisurely club with one arm with never the slightest chance of being able to hit the ball with any consistency. So imagine if through a birth defect or an horrific accident you had to go through life one-handed and still played golf. Now that's a real golfing handicap in the true sense of the word.

And judging by the smiling faces on this group of one-armed golfers competing in this year's world championship on Tyneside, if any of them didn't enjoy the chance to compete against others with a similar disability, I'd eat my tam-o'-shanter!

One-armed golfers
Malcolm Guy

Having played against blind and wheelchair bound lawn-bowlers I know how competitive they are and, I imagine, disabled golfers are equally determined not to let their lack of use of a limb get in the way of challenging in a sport where even the able-bodied find the game hard to master.

So I was intrigued this week by a cry for help from Malcolm Guy, president of The Society of One-Armed Golfers looking to launch a Ryder Cup-style match to run alongside the next US v Europe Ryder Cup in Louisville, Kentucky in 2008.

"Playing together and welcoming one-armed golfers from the United Kingdom and overseas is our reward for helping to rehabilitate people who have suffered trauma by losing an arm or the use of an arm," says Malcolm (55), from Oldmeldrum Golf Club in Aberdeenshire who was was born without a right hand but plays to a 22-handicap.

One-armed golfers
Brian Crombie (left) with Norman Kelly

"Our aim, as a society, is to increase our membership, recruit new members of any age, give them coaching and encouragement to play this wonderful game and to eventually provide national handicaps, just like two-handed golfers."

He reveals that the society was founded in Scotland in 1932, when its members were primarily victims of injuries suffered in World War One. Servicemen and women injured in World War Two and victims of polio and thalidomide were subsequently drafted in to the ranks.

"Many of our new members are introduced to us within months of having lost an arm, or the use of an arm usually in industrial or motor accidents and, of course, neurological problems, which can cause paralysis of one side, but leaving the other side fit and well.

"The Society offers counselling which plays a large part in the rehabilitation and social adjustment," says Malcolm who is a leading light behind organising the 70th World One-Armed Championships, due to take place at Stirling Golf Club next May. Golfers will come from all over the world to play in a qualifying tournament culminating in matchplay event for the top 16 playing off scratch. Handicaps range from 6 to 28 for men and 19 to 34 for women.

One-armed golfers
Nick Champness (left) and Mike O'Grady

"Over the years the society has grown and we now have approximately 200 members around the world, who take part in our various events," says Malolm, revealing that after competing in the North American One -Armed Championship in Montreal, he was approached to help organise a Ryder Cup-style event, sanctioned by the USPGA and Ryder Cup committee with a follow-up in the UK in 2010.

Among the likely contenders for places on the European team are Nick Champness, the current world champion and a winner on four occasions, who's a six handicapper from Royal Ashdown Forest despite being born with only a partial right arm.

Another is Michael O'Grady from Mullingar in Ireland, a seven handicapper who lost the use of an arm in a car accident, while Brian Crombie from Fife has won the title three times. He lost an arm in a drilling accident and plays off 12 at Balbirnie Park.
For further information about the Society of One-Armed golfers or to offer assistance contact
Malcolm Guy at 5 Crimond Park, Ellon, Aberdeen AB41 8BS (Tel: 01358 722699).

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