Saint Omer a leading light in disabled golf

6/12/2013 4:42:23 PM
Sam Walker with his Pro-Am playing partners Olivier Lecocq, Jean-Marie Requeux and Rhys Kinsella (Thomas Colpaert)  (EuropeanTour)
Sam Walker with his Pro-Am playing partners Olivier Lecocq, Jean-Marie Requeux and Rhys Kinsella (Thomas Colpaert) (EuropeanTour)
Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, the host venue for this week’s Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize, has become a leading light in Europe for the promotion of disabled golf and will next year host a major tournament in that field.

Jean-Jacques Durand, the President of Aa Saint Omer Golf Club and main promoter of the event his week, is a huge pioneer of disabled golf and three teams of disabled players took part in the tournament Pro-Am.

The club has played host to a European Tour event, co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, for the past ten years, while it was a Challenge Tour tournament for three years prior to making the step up.

Next year, the pristine course will play host to its first major disabled golf tournament, something which makes Durand extremely proud as well as excited.

“We decided some years ago to organise the course for disabled players so we put paths all along the course for special wheelchairs from which you can play golf,” he said.

“Quite soon we will have three of those special wheelchairs and in April we organised a match between the French and English disabled golf teams.

“We have also welcomed to our club a special group of soldiers that have been injured in conflict to help them integrate back into sport and society.

“Next year, in the middle of May, will be the biggest of all for us - an international disabled golf tournament which will have players from 10-15 countries and 80-100 players and we are going to discuss with The European Tour and the French Golf Federation how to organise it and stage it.”

It will be the culmination of a lot of hard work for Durand and everybody involved in the project and he believes that other clubs could take a page from their book and help to develop the sport of disabled golf.

“Ten years ago a foundation was created nearby for disabled people and my family have always been involved in that so we decided to bring it to golf,” he said.

“Every year we have teams from disabled golf societies playing in the Pro-Am for this tournament which is great

“We try to lead the way and show other clubs what they can do for disabled golf. We have two or three societies who come here every week to train and practice and some are helping out in this tournament. This is something you have to do.”