Four players are celebrating success after being crowned champions in their category for the new global ranking for golfers with disabilities.
The World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) was launched at the start of 2019 to promote inclusivity within the sport and is administered in tandem with the World Amateur Golf Ranking® for both men and women.
The rankings are divided into Gross, Nett and Stableford Rankings, all of which feature both men and women.
Englishman George Groves took the title as Gross Ranking winner for 2019 and remains the No 1 player in the world, with the Nett Ranking winner accolade going to Canada’s Rodney Reimer.
Welsh-born Joshua Jones, now residing in Australia, was awarded the leading player in Stableford. A Leading Women Golfer award also went to Daphne van Houten from the Netherlands, who is ranked inside the top 20 players in the world.
WR4GD is designed to support the growth and development of the sport for disabled golfers and there has been a sizeable increase in the number of players included in all three ranking categories since its introduction.
In 2019, the WR4GD included 854 players from 32 countries who competed in 43 ranking tournaments played in 18 countries. In comparison, there were 594 players who competed in 23 ranking events in 2018.
Gross Rankings featured 299 players (an increase of 52% from 2018), Nett Rankings featured 311 players (an increase of 45% from 2018) and Stableford Rankings featured 244 players (an increase of 34% from 2018).
The R&A and the USGA assumed responsibility for calculation of the rankings, taking over from EDGA (formerly known as the European Disabled Golf Association), which created the comprehensive and independent Ranking for Golfers with Disability in 2014.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development and Amateur Championships at The R&A, said, “We offer our congratulations to the four golfers who have been successful on the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability, all of whom produced excellent performances in 2019.
“It is also very encouraging to report an increase in the number of golfers with disability competing and the growth in the number of events included in the rankings.
“We are aiming to ensure that golf is more inclusive of people of all ages and abilities and it is pleasing to highlight this early progress.”
EDGA affiliated to The R&A two years ago, while The R&A also provides investment to other organisations supporting disabled golf, including (in 2019) the Henrik Stenson Foundation, Handigolf Foundation and the South African Disabled Golf Association.
Last year also saw disability golf highlighted at leading professional events. In July, Irishman Brendan Lawlor – who recently turned professional – won the inaugural EDGA Scottish Open at The Renaissance.
Played alongside the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, the 36-hole event featured 10 players from the WR4GD taking each other on over the same layout the European Tour field tackled.
The EDGA Scottish Open was the first of two disability championships on the European Tour in 2019, with the 36-hole EDGA Dubai Finale featuring as part of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, with George Groves winning in Dubai.
The second edition of the Australian All Abilities Championship also took place alongside the Emirates Australian Open in December, with 12 of the world's best golfers with disability in the field, where Swede Johan Kammerstad successfully defended his title.
Tony Bennett, EDGA President, said, “The four players awarded as the leading players in their categories genuinely deserve the accolade and have proven through a sustained period that they are worthy winners.
“The World Ranking for Golfers with Disability has helped to create a rapidly expanding calendar of events at local, regional, national and international level, offering all golfers with a disability the opportunity to become a competitor in the sport of golf. EDGA congratulates all players who have earned a position in one of the rankings and recognises the enormous effort required to do so.”
The R&A, together with the USGA, has since the early 2000’s also maintained the Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities.
* The World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) ranks the top golfers with disability on the basis of their average performance in counting events over a rolling cycle of the previous 104 weeks
* Gross Rankings are for players with golf handicaps up to 18.4 (they also include Professional golfers with disability)
* Nett Rankings are for players with golf handicaps up to 18.4 but excludes Professionals
* Stableford Rankings are for players with golf handicaps from 18.5 up to 54