One-legged golfer sues golf course run by council for discrimination

Golfer denied buggy because he didn't have a letter from the doctor. 

One-legged golfer sues golf course run by council for discrimination
One-legged golfer sues golf course run by council for discrimination



A golfer with a prosthetic leg is suing a council-run golf course for refusing to let him play while using a buggy, according to the BBC. 

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The man - named Paul Houghton - had his right leg amputated in 2000 after being affected by a lethal tissue-eating bacteria and he currently relies on crutches and a wheelchair to get about. He is lucky to be alive, according to reports.

Having represented England at disability golf 13 times, Paul, a 4-handicap golfer, requires a buggy in order to make his way around an 18-hole course - and rightly so.

But in August 2016, Paul had booked to play a round with a friend at Hartswood Golf Course in Essex - owned and operated by Brentwood Council - but on his way to the first tee he claims he was told he was not allowed on to the course without a letter from his doctor justifying the medical need for a buggy.

The club made it clear that if Paul obtained a letter then he would be given a certificate allowing him to use his buggy.

"I was gobsmacked," he told the BBC. "I've played over 100 courses around England, I've played all around the world and I've not been treated in this way before."

Paul says he explained that he had his own insurance, a European Disabled Golf Association card, and a medical exemption, but the club insisted that he needed a letter from a doctor to justify the use of a buggy.

"It sends the message that disabled people aren't welcome, that we are not part of society, not included, but are segregated and can't join in a sport that's accessible to everybody, because we need to use other equipment to play the game," he said. 

In his legal claim, Paul argues that by refusing to allow him to use a buggy without a doctor's letter, the council discriminated against him because of his inability to walk around the golf course.

Paul claims the council was applying a policy that indirectly discriminates against all disabled people who need a buggy to play golf.

Brentwood Council denies any discrimination and is defending the legal action.

The council said it was "committed to ensuring safe access for everyone to all its facilities" and would issue a full statement when legal action had concluded.

Cae Menai-Davis, co-founder of the Golf Trust, a charity that works with disabled groups to make golf more inclusive, commented: "Golf is a sport for everyone.

"Making it difficult for a disabled golfer to use a buggy isn't just bad policy, it is bad business.

"There is a huge untapped group of people with learning and physical disabilities that want to play the game and will benefit hugely from it."

What do you make of this decision to deny someone with a disability access to a buggy? Share your thoughts on social media channels over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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