Image: team sent to Amiens France
Golf has the almost unique system of "Handicapping" which allows players of different disability levels to compete with a comparable chance of success. However there is natural tendency to avoid this concept and award gross scores instead of nett scores. This favours players with lesser levels of physical disability and risks excluding players with high levels of disability.
Hence it is recommended that nett scores be rewarded with more status than the awards for gross scores. This is because unlike the Olympics more severely disabled players can demonstrate higher levels of skill and competence even though they record higher gross scores. (All competitors are eligible for the higher status nett awards).
For team events it will be possible to quantify the level of disability of constituent players from 0 to 5 and specify that each team contains a minimum value of aggregated disabilty value (DA) ; for example blind golfers = 5, wheelchair bound golfers = 4, arm amputees and one-arm golfers = 3, above-knee leg amputees = 2, below-knee amputees = 1 and disabled players with no apparent external physical disability = 0.5. A team of players should always have a total minimum disability aggregate of 2.5 times the number of players. (for example the team shown above the minimum DA would be 15, however it has an actual DA of 17 and some wheelchair bound players could be replaced by less disabled players to bring the DA down to 15).The performance of team members should remain within the nett scoring system to ensure comparable contributions.
If awards to team events are of equal status to individual awards then this also ensures that severely disabled players must be included.
National handicap systems (eg CONGU) hold the essential data to set minimum levels of competance for inclusion within Paralympic golf. Although it is not recommended that disabled golf be divided into categories based on disability it can be recognised that such categories are useful when used against handicap systems to set acceptable standards.
The following minimum playing handicap levels are suggested as an initial Paralympic Qualifying Standard and are based on the top 10 percentile of current active disabled golfers.
Blind golfers = 36, wheelchair golfers = 29, double leg amputee golfers = 18, arm amputee and one-arm golfers = 10, above knee leg amputee golfers = 8, below knee amputee golfers = 6, disabled golfers with no external disability = 4.
Accurate playing handicaps from National Bodies are essential to fair and rewarding competition. Although individual nations may present a listing that is coherent within the country's players it will need international comparison and unification during the early part of the Paralympic event.
Hence the Paralypic Golf organisers must have the power to adjust playing handicaps of indivdual competitors during the Games.
A method of retrospective handicap adjustment of results is currenly under investigation by The Handigolf Foundation for this purpose. It may mean submitting several scores during the event and some being selected for handicap ratification and others being selected at random for the actual competition. However this must not reduce the event to one that is overly influenced by chance and probability rather than skilled play.
All play should be under "A modification of the Rules of Golf for people with Disabilities" as ratified by The R&A and The USGA.
Golf courses should be set up with the following specifications.
All tees and greens should be easily and safely accessible to all players.
Most bunkers should be easily and safely accessible to all players and be without a continuous step to allow an easier access point.
The essential "carry" over rough vegetation,(including long grass) water or steep terrain from the tee should not exceed 40 metres.
There should be "fairway" quality turf within 2-4 club lengths of any lateral or transverse hazard (including bunkers) to enable a drop on safe and level ground under the 4 club length, one stroke penalty specified in the modified rules.
Particularly steep areas of courses. especially side slopes, should be marked as Ground under Repair and a "Drop Zone" in a safe area should be identified. These areas should be marked in consultation with the officials associated with wheelchair golfers, blind golfers and those requiring support crutches etc.
Recommended scoring system
Where possible scoring should be under the Stableford System and "Medal" scoring should be avoided. This is because disabled golfers can get into very troublesome playing situations more frequently than able-bodied golfers and it should be within the Paralympic ethos to keep players in a competitive situation for the duration of the Games. For example a score of 10 or more on the first hole of a 72 hole event in medal scoring probably rules that competitor out of the rest of the tournament.
In order that certain disabled golfers are not disadvantaged due to tiedness, no more than 18 holes of golf should be played on any one day.
There should be a rest day after two successive days of competition (excluding any practoce days).
No more than three rounds of golf should be played in any 5-day period.
Players must be given at least 18 hours rest between play on successive days (this also allows time to recharge batteries on essential playing equipment).
Where possible Team Events should run concurrently with the rounds of golf that are part of individual events in order that players are not asked to participate in too many rounds of golf during the Games. It is expected that most players will participate in both individual and team events, although this does not have to be a pre-requisite.
In the event of tied results play-offs on the same day should be avoided so as not to disadvantage certain disabled players. Where possible "count-backs" should be used on previous sections of play. Decisions based on lower playing handicaps should not be made as they will in general favour the less disabled golfer.
Best Stableford Score of any male golfer (nett) = GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE
Best Stableford Score of any female golfer (nett) = GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE
Best Team of male scores (nett) = GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE,
Best Team of female scores (nett) = GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE,
Best Team of male scores (gross) = SILVER
Best Team of female scores (gross) = SILVER
Best gross score of a male blind golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a female blind golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a male wheelchair golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a female wheelchair golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a male arm-amputee or one-arm golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a female arm-amputee or one-arm golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a male above-knee-amputee golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a female above-knee-amputee golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a male below-knee-amputee golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a female below-knee-amputee golfer = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a male golfer with no external physical disability = 1 SILVER
Best gross score of a female golfer with no external physical disability = 1 SILVER
MEDAL CONTRIBUTION TO GAMES' TOTALS = 4 gold, 18 silver, 4 bronze.
As can be seen only silver medals are awarded to gross scores in keeping with the inclusive approach outlined.
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