Friday, 30th September, 2016

Fundraising Drive to Boost Disabled Golf

Story published at 10:55, Tuesday, September 20th, 2016


paragolfer-img_4659Mearns Castle Golf Academy and Paragolf Scotland are to host a fun day to grow awareness of disabled golf and raise funds towards a third Paragolfer at the Club.

The Paragolfer, which was first launched at Mearns by Paragolf Scotland in April, makes golf accessible to wheelchair users by raising them into an upright position so that they can swing at the ball.

The innovative buggy, which was brought to Scotland with the generous support of the Social Care Ideas Factory (SCIF), The Watson Foundation and The Stand Up and Play Foundation, has three wheels and a joystick control console similar to a powerchair.

Paragolf Scotland is an initiative by the SCIF, a charity passionate about innovation and turning brave ideas that change people’s lives into a reality. Charlie B-Gavigan, CEO of SCIF, said: “Our work is focused on supporting people to lead better lives and the Paragolf Scotland initiative is a major step forward in supporting sports inclusion. Paragolf has the potential to give Scottish golf a new lease of life, increasing national membership and participation. We want to spread the word about Paragolfer to disabled people across Scotland who do not know or believe they can learn or continue to play golf.”

Mearns Castle is currently home to the only 2 publicly owned Paragolfers in Scotland, which are free to hire and can be used on the driving range or 9-hole golf course. The Paragolfer has proved so popular the club now need a third machine.

Lewis Burnett, Assistant Manager at Mearns Castle Golf Academy said: “The Paragolfer represents a major development for Scottish golf. Previously the sport may have seemed like a distant memory to those who have been injured or suffer from mobility issues, but thanks to this innovative device playing golf is now a real possibility. We have a number of people regularly using the machines with a range of disabilities ranging from arthritis to paralysis. It is fantastic to see the look on their faces when they get back on the course again with their friends and family. Word is spreading fast, so it will be great to have an extra machine so we can meet demand.”

The availability of the device at Mearns Castle has already boosted club membership by attracting several new members such as Ryan MacDonald, who said: “As a wheelchair user, I never thought I’d be able to play golf with my friends and family again. Finding the Paragolfer was like a dream come true. I now play regularly and have even been out on the course with my son for the first time!”

After funding the first two machines and witnessing their popularity at Mearns, The Watson Foundation (set up by John Watson OBE, the former Chairman and Chief Executive of the renowned printers John Watson and Company) was keen to back a third machine and will match funds raised by the fun day on Saturday 24 September.

John Watson said: “The Watson Foundation believe a sport like golf should be as accessible to as many people as possible and applaud Mearns Castle and Paragolf Scotland for opening up golf to everyone irrespective of whether they have a disability or not. Other Scottish clubs should take their lead from this inspiring initiative. We have been deeply impressed by the impact the two existing buggies have had and are delighted to back a third machine to extend their availability to more people.”

The format of the fun day will be a 9-hole round and entry costs £100 per team of four, which will include tea/coffee and a bacon roll as well as soup and sandwich at the end of the round. Other quirky events running on the day include a marshmallow long drive contest, whoever hits the marshmallow the furthest wins a prize, and a Paragolf drive, where each able bodied golfer must hit their tee shot on the 9th hole in the Paragolfer. To book a place call Mearns Castle Golf Academy on 0141 644 8200.

Mearns Castle Golf Academy www.mcgolfacademy.co.uk

The Stand Up and Play Foundation www.standupandplayfoundation.org

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