The English Deaf Golf Association (EDGA) was formed in 1983. Ben Stephens made his first foray into deaf golf in 2011 and was voted in as their Secretary earlier this year. He told us all about the organisation and their efforts to get more deaf people to pick up a set of clubs and play golf!
What is the aim of the EDGA?
The English Deaf Golf Association encourages deaf golfers and supports them in joining a golf club. We are on hand to give advice to both the deaf individual and their golf clubs.
An example is Kevin Lee, who mostly signs, from Liverpool who other deaf golfers can see has talent. Kevin was invited to participate in the National Championships despite not having an official handicap and he won the 15-28 handicap event by a number of shots.
He was encouraged to join up with the England Team at the 3 day training camp at Woodhall Spa last month. Two days after the camp Kevin signed up and joined a golf club in Liverpool, why? He was encouraged and had played with other deaf golfers who are experienced club members. That gave him the confidence to join a golf club himself.
What are the attitudes to deaf players like at golf clubs?
That depends whether the club or individuals are aware of deafness. My parents helped out in the early years explaining to others how to communicate with me. I started playing regularly when I was 14 and I had friends who I played with helping me with certain situations like ordering a drink or food. Now I do it all myself.
There is a perception by some from the deaf world that they don’t feel welcome to golf clubs because they feel left out. Certain individuals and golf clubs do want to help and learn how to communicate with a deaf person.
Having been involved in English Deaf Golf personally over the last 2 years I have learned a few new signs plus a few swear ones!
Deaf teams have not played against hearing teams – I have suggested to England Golf having a match against the English Seniors team so that may happen in the near future.
From a personal standpoint, I have always lived in a mainstream world. I went to Oakham School and Lewis Moody, former England Rugby Captain was in the year below me. I have represented Leicestershire and Rutland Golf Union at U18 level and played for Dundee and Nottingham University Golf Team at British Universities level. I play in hearing teams like my club scratch team and make my opponents aware that if they need to communicate I need to be able to read their lips.
I have good banter with my hearing friends on and off the golf course!
When was the first recorded deaf golf tournament?
The first known deaf golf championship was held at North Middlesex Golf Club in October 1914, which was won by Eric Withers from Liverpool. EDGA are hoping to celebrate the 100 anniversary by taking the English Deaf Golf Open to Liverpool in 2014 and through organising a one off event at North Middlesex Golf Club.
Do the current crop of deaf golfers compete in international tournaments as well as domestic ones?
6 players – Martin Anderson, capt (Yorks), Jason Albutt vice-capt. (Worcs), Mike Burris (Gloucs), Richard Le Page (Staffs), Michael Roberts (Kent) and Ben Stephens (Rutland) have just represented England at the World Deaf Golf Championships in Tsu, Japan. www.2012wdgcjapan.com. Last year England Deaf Golf Team also won the inaugural 4 Nations Championship (between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales deaf golf teams) in Dublin.
4 Nations in Ireland was very memorable from a team and event point of view. The banter between the nations was great and many pints of Guinness were sunk! There were great games and England only lost one pairs match out of 9 played in the whole event.
Our chairman and long time English Deaf Golf Team member – Mark Forrest is nicknamed ‘Shanker’ because of his habit of shanking at certain times (Shanking is when the ball is hit on the toe of the clubhead and goes sideways) Mark hit a great drive on the opening hole in Ireland but unfortunately he then needed three putts on the green!
At the EDGA National Championships at Luffenham Heath Golf Club this June (on Diamond Jubilee Weekend) – the second day was played in a constant downpour and yet the course withstood it with fantastic drainage – Mike Burris played fantastic over the 3 days despite the poor conditions to win the National Championship from Martin Anderson.
The worst weather to play golf is lightning which is dangerous especially we are using metal clubs!
The English Deaf Golf Association welcome new deaf and hearing impaired golfers to take part in their events. If you are interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find out about the history of Deaf Golf at www.deafgolfhistory.co.uk.
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