The 19th edition of the Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open boasts the most diverse field of entrants since the inception of the competition by the South African Disabled Golf Association (SADGA) 19 years ago. Over 80 local and international golfers have confirmed their participation in the 2017 Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open.
South Africans have historically dominated the tournament, with Ben van Zyl winning the event from 1998 to 2003; Pieter Jansen in 2004; Nico Wentzel in 2008; Iglin Grobblaar in 2009 and 2010; and Daniel Slabbert from 2011 to 2013, and again in 2015.
Travelling to South Africa to compete are Bob MacDermott (Canada); Martin Williams (Wales); Shaun Bakker (United Kingdom); George Mecs (France), Cian Arthurs (Ireland) and Manuel De Los Santos amongst others. De Los Santos, a regular competitor in Canon South Africa’s annual PRO Golf Series, hails from the Dominican Republic and since losing his leg in a vehicle accident in 2003, has won many international events for disabled golfers in Europe. In 2007, he became the first amputee to play in the French Golf Grand prix alongside high level able bodied Amateur golfers. These very talented golfers will convene for the Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open at King David Mowbray Golf Club in Cape Town from the 15th to the 17th of May.
“We are thrilled with the tremendous enthusiasm with which golfers from around the world have entered this year’s tournament. Competition will indeed be stiff, with some of the world’s very best golfers with disabilities competing. The field is extremely diverse, with players of all ages with various disabilities, from around the world. We have competitors as young as 12 competing this year,” says Reinard Schuhknecht, Brand Ambassador for the2017 Canon South African Disabled Golf Open and widely considered one of South Africa’s best disabled golfers.
The Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open is hosted annually by SADGA, offering a platform for disabled golfers to pit their skills against some of the best in the world in a credible competition that has at its heart the goal to inspire and unite players with varying disabilities, and acknowledge their achievements. The tournament attracts the world’s top golfers with disabilities. In 2016, 30% of the field boasted single figure handicaps and more than half of the competitors have handicaps of 18 or lower.
The maximum handicap for men and ladies is 36. Disabled golfers with handicaps of 18 and under will play 54 holes, medal stroke play while those with handicaps of between 19 and 36 will play 54 holes stableford. The overall Champion Golfer will be the player achieving the lowest cumulative gross score over the 54 holes.
Deaf golfers with handicaps of 9 and under will play 54 holes medal stroke play while those with handicaps of 10 and over will play 54 holes stableford. The overall Deaf Champion Golfer will be the player achieving the lowest cumulative gross score over the 54 holes in the deaf division.
Canon South Africa became the official sponsor of the tournament this year. However, Canon SA's association with SADGA stems back to 2001 when the company sponsored a small prize for a golf tournament. Since then, its involvement with SADGA has continued to grow, with its sponsorship focusing on SADGA's First Swing initiative, a development programme for children with disabilities. The primary focus of the programme is on rehabilitation and psychological development of disabled children. It is operational in 35 schools across the country, with some 750 children benefitting every week.
Young players who have risen through the ranks of the First Swing Programme will be competing in the 2017 Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open. They include 16 year old Enrique van Wyk who was born with a physical disability condition and Grade 11 learner, Jabu (Cameron) Price Moor, whose arm was paralysed in a car accident when he was one year old. These are children who have shown dedication, commitment and passion to learn, to try, and to never give up on their dreams of playing a sport
Gian de Valliers, Managing Director at Canon SA, says: “Over the years, our support for SADGA has evolved to become something of a passion. We are proud to take our support of SADGA to the next level as the proud, official sponsor of the South African Disabled Golf Open.”
SADGA is recognised and respected for opening up a world of world of interaction, opportunities and competition for golfers with disabilities. In addition to the South African Disabled Golf Open, SADGA organises about 40 provincial golf days around the country each year, which culminate with the SADGA Provincial Challenge.
Reinard Schuhknecht, Brand Ambassador for the 2017 Canon South African Disabled Golf Open, says: “We have made great strides towards integrating disabled golfers into the sport. Now they now have opportunity to nurture their abilities and compete against other disabled golfers both locally and internationally. None of our efforts or successes over the years would have been possible without the support of our sponsors and donors. The South African Disabled Golf Open continues to grow in both size and stature and is now a notable event on the international disabled golfing calendar.”