One of Europe’s oldest tournaments has a new sponsor after ISPS Handa announced its support of the PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall.
The European Senior Tour event, which was first contested in 1957, takes place at De Vere’s Northumberland resort from June 7-10 and will be called the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.
It is the fifth successive year that the championship has been staged on the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course and the event, won last year by Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn, once again carries a £250,000 prize fund.
Oldcorn finished nine shots clear of compatriot Gordon Brand Jnr to complete a PGA double, having won The European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in 2001.
ISPS, which stands for International Sports Promotion Society, was founded by Japanese philanthropists Dr Haruhisa Handa and the Tokyo-based organisation supports a number of tournaments around the world, using them as a platform to promote opportunities for blind and disabled golfers. In November ISPS was announced as the new title sponsor of the ISPS Handa Wales Open on The European Tour, which takes place at The Celtic Manor Resort from May 31- June 3, the week before the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.
As part of this latest tournament sponsorship ISPS is also supporting a PGA academy programme to help PGA professionals specialise in coaching blind and disabled golfers. ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme, will provide a thousand free golf lessons for blind and disabled golfers with PGA Professionals.
De Vere will also take a lead role in the launch of the new initiative by committing De Vere venues and resident PGA professionals to support the scheme and by creating regional events for blind and disabled golfers, culminating in a grand final at the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall.
Dr Handa said: “We are pleased to be sponsoring such a prestigious tournament as the PGA Seniors Championship in the superb setting of Slaley Hall.”
“Sponsoring tournaments like the PGA Seniors Championship provides an ideal platform to promote and grow the game of golf and we also welcome the opportunity to support this unique PGA academy programme,” added Dr Handa, whose wider mission is to help make golf a Paralmypic sport.
ISPS’s support for the academy programme was welcomed by Kyle Phillpots, PGA director of education and career development, who paid tribute to Dr Handa and ISPS and identified their commitment to the project as a significant milestone in helping improve coaching standards for disabled golfers in the UK.
“Many of our members already do excellent work with golfers with a range of disabilities but this is the first time we have had the opportunity to devise a specific programme for PGA professionals interested in this field,” he said.
Daniel Hodson, golf and leisure director for De Vere, said: “We are delighted to welcome ISPS on board as the title sponsor and De Vere fully supports their aims to improve golfing opportunities for blind and disabled golfers.
“This is the fifth successive year that the PGA Seniors Championship has been staged at Slaley Hall and with the support of ISPS we are looking forward to another week of exciting golf.”
Dr Handa, who is vice president at the Royal National Institute for the Blind, set up the Japanese Blind Golf Association in 1988 and was also a driving force behind the formation of the International Blind Golf Association.
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