Taking place for a third year, 16 Net and Stableford qualifiers from nine European countries will seek to improve their international playing experience when they tee it up in the three-day match play knockout tournament at North Hants Golf Club near Fleet, England.
The players (eight from each category) have earned their place as a result of their strong showing in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) to compete in this innovative EDGA event which is all made possible through the support from leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
EDGA – the international experts in G4D (golf for the disabled) – is seeking to encourage 500,000 more people with a disability to join the player pathway: whether this be ‘first-touch’ activity in a club or community setting (including health centres and charity groups), to playing regular golf at club level or competition (EDGA presents or sanctions 100-plus international G4D tournaments), or reaching the highest levels of the game on the G4D Tour, which is staged by the DP World Tour and supported by EDGA.
Even though the Play-off Series is the finale of a year of competition for the 16 players, the EDGA grass-roots development activities in the UK and Ireland continue through the support of RSM and other partners to provide sampling opportunities for interested people who have a disability, and their family members. RSM staff, who have been trained as volunteers by EDGA, have provided outreach sessions to a new audience of players, some simply putting and chipping and learning the basics of the game.
In this year’s RSM Play-off Series, the accent for the week will be on top competition on the fairways while raising awareness for golf as a great activity for the health and social benefits it offers all participants.
Ireland’s Tom Doherty will be at North Hants GC defending the Stableford trophy he won last year at Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club.
Tom plays off a 21-handicap due in part to a bad bicycle accident he had aged 15; he has a walking spinal injury, and today uses a cane to walk with, and a buggy on the course. Tom said after his 2022 victory: “It was superb to have EDGA players from many countries competing strongly but sharing their experiences. This was a privilege to represent Killarney and Ireland in this excellent international event supported by RSM.”
Finland’s Simo Kosunen had to relearn golf (including putting one handed), following a brain injury at work that affects his balance, strength and focus. Simo qualified for the North Hants finale after leading the Net Rankings.
Simo says: “Golf has helped me a lot mentally and physically after my impairment. I get to be myself on the course and I can spend time outdoors doing what I love. I don't know what I would do without golf. It has given me new friends and it is a great support in life.”
Tony Bennett, President of EDGA, said: “Now in its third year, the RSM European Play-off Series creates a hugely exciting platform for developing Net and Stableford players from all over Europe. Our qualifiers have all earned their place at North Hants GC through their consistency in EDGA tournaments, which has propelled them up the eagerly contested World Ranking.
“The wonderful additional focus of this tournament can also encourage many more people with a disability to enjoy golf; those brand new to the game, who might be looking for an activity that offers them physical and mental health benefits, and also to existing golfers who will be even more determined to reach their full potential on the golf course.”
Tony Bennett added: “Our partners at RSM not only recognise the value of presenting positive sporting opportunities to a new audience of people with a disability, but the fact that many of their staff have wanted to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to help us develop the game for new players goes above and beyond. We are now all looking forward to helping to celebrate some fantastic community work with RSM at North Hants Golf Club and welcoming these deserving qualifying players to this special tournament.”
Kirsty Sandwell, National Head of Transactions at RSM UK, commented: “We’re really excited ahead of this year’s European Play-off Series. The event continues to grow from strength-to-strength both in terms of its prominence and the tremendous talent on show. Having seen first-hand the positive impact that this sport can have on people with a disability, my colleagues and I at RSM are delighted to be supporting EDGA, and the Play-off Series now in its third year.
“We’re committed to working closely with EDGA in our continued bid to widen participation among golfers with a disability. We also want to raise the profile of the sport more generally, and so give others the opportunity to be inspired by these incredible athletes.”
At the highest level of G4D competition, RSM also supports a dedicated RSM Gross Series of six tournaments to support golfers with a disability aiming to qualify for G4D Tour events.
Qualifying players for the 2023 RSM European Play-off Series
1. Simo Kosunen (1) Finland
2. Riccardo Bianciardi (5) Italy
3. Mike Jones (6) Wales
4. Paal Angerman (8) Norway
5. Leonard Angelo Colussi (12) Italy
6. Niclas Amundsen (13) Norway
7. Jose Bagnarelli (15) Italy
8. Pierre Dumas (12) France
1. Richard Saunders (1) England
2. Timo Pessi (2) Finland
3. Pentti Vaara (3) Finland
4. Declan Burns (6) Ireland
5. Tom Doherty (9) Ireland
6. Senne Nuyens (10) Belgium
7. Quentin Thomann (11) Germany
8. Loris Stradi (15) Italy
Article by Ben Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org, September 2023
© EDGA Golf 2023