Machine opens golf to the disabled

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An East Renfrewshire golf club and driving range is believed to be the first in the country to offer a pioneering invention that makes the game of golf accessible to disabled people.

Now, disabled sportsmen and women can get into the swing alongside able bodied golfers.

Mearns Castle Golf Academy says it’s the first facility in Scotland to give wheelchair users the chance to learn and play golf using the golf aid, Paragolfer.

The innovation has been the talk of the sporting world since it first came to market as this means wheelchair users will be able to take part in mainstream golfing competition at any level.

And it opens the doors to the prospect of a new paralympic and disabled sport, hampered only by the massive price tag on the machines, which runs to tens of thousands of pounds.

Designed in Germany, the Paragolfer is a special mobility device that lifts people from seated to a standing position, allowing full movement for the shoulders and upper body.

The wheels are lightweight and do not leave tracks, meaning the machine – approved by golfing institutions such as the R&A and the PGA – is suitable for the golf course, bunkers and, more importantly for the green keepers, the putting green.

“To see someone that has been in a wheelchair for most of their life, and presume they will never be able to play golf, suddenly standing upright and hitting balls is truly inspiring,” said manager Russell Gray.

He added: “to be able to get out on the course with my friends and family is a dream come true”.

The machine will be kept at the golf academy for anyone from the general public to use free of charge.

And a spokeswoman for Mearns Castle told The Extra of plans to acquire a second machine for the club, adding: “We’re looking at possible fundraising events towards providing another Paragolfer for the club.”

Wheelchair user Ryan MacDonald of the sporting charity that donated the machine, TS Sport, demonstrated the vehicle at Mearns Castle’s launch.