Today marks International Day of People with a Disability (IDPwD) and in a fitting celebration coincides with day two of the Australian All Abilities Championship at the 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
In a world-first, the world’s best all abilities athletes have been competing on course in the Australian All Abilities Championship (AAAC) alongside the ISPS HANDA Australian Open men’s and women’s fields at Victoria Golf Course.
The AAAC, played over 54 holes, is equal in distance and par (72) to the women’s championship course, while only slightly shorter in distance than the men’s championship course (par 70), with AAAC tee’s often only five metres in front.
The first day of play on Friday enthralled the crowds and set up an enticing weekend, with four players within two shots of the lead.
The All Abilities field also provided arguably the highlight of Friday’s proceedings at Victoria, when Italian Tommaso Perrino holed out from the bunker on the 18th for an eagle, with the grandstand and rows of spectators lining the ropes erupting in a roar heard from the furthest points of the course.
Since the first AAAC tournament was held alongside the men’s field at the Australian Open in 2018, which was again the first tournament of its kind, there has been a huge wave of development in disability golf.
In collaboration with the DP World Tour, the G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour was formed in 2022, giving the world’s leading players with disability the opportunity to play on the same course during the same tournament week as the DP World Tour.
Young Englishman Kipp Popert, the world No. 1 in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD), won four of the seven events in the first year of the tour, and lived up to his reputation to lead play after the first day at the AAAC.
Heralded as a legend of Australian disability sport, Geoff Nicholas was born without his fibula or ankle in his right leg, which was eventually amputated while he was still a young boy.
11-times the winner of both the US and British Amputee Open, Nicholas says that the International Day of People with Disability is a fantastic way to not only promote inclusion, but also to inspire other people with a disability to engage in activities such as golf.
“It’s terrific. People think once you have a disability that’s it, but I think that’s why golf is such a good sport, anyone can play it.
“Golf has been my life, it’s sort of helped me along the way. Without golf – I think that’s why we play, people see us, and we can actually inspire people to compete.”
Observed by the United Nations, the day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.
The theme for IDPwD 2022 is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world’.