The G4D Tour broke new ground in 2023 as the game of golf continued to champion inclusivity.
The second season featured an expanded eight-event schedule, including the inaugural staging of The G4D Open.
Staged in partnership with The R&A, the championship featured nine sport classes across multiple impairment groups, with players represented from 17 countries.
This highlighted the global impact of the G4D Tour since it launched in 2022 in raising awareness and providing opportunities for golfers with disabilities to compete at an elite level of the sport.
A field of 80 male and female amateur and professional golfers competed over 54 holes of stroke play gross competition.
Brendan Lawlor – the first golfer with a disability to compete on the DP World Tour in 2020 – edged out World Number One Kipp Popert in a close contest for a historic win in May, with American Kim Moore finishing as the leading woman.
EDGA, formerly the European Disabled Golf Association, was involved in the formation of the tournament, which will return to Woburn for its second edition next year.
The triumph for Lawlor, who was born with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, a rare bone growth disorder, and is arguably the most recognised golfer with a disability, was his first on the G4D Tour since its inception.
His victory saw the Irishman become the third different first-time winner across the opening four events of the G4D Tour’s second campaign, following on from Spain’s Juan Postigo Arce in Abu Dhabi and South Africa’s David Watts in Singapore.
Popert had earlier brought across his excellent form from the debut campaign into the second season by registering his fifth victory of 2022 at the Australian All Abilities Championship.
But by the time the G4D Tour made its second visit of 2023 to English soil at The Belfry, Popert had seen Postigo Arce deny him further success and in turn win for the second time in the season with a final hole chip-in birdie in Sweden.
However, it wasn’t long after that before Popert was celebrating success as he underlined his status at the World Number One by successfully defending his title at the G4D Tour @ Betfred British Masters with an emphatic seven-shot victory.
After three earlier runner-up finishes in as many starts on the G4D Tour, Popert was keen to make up for lost time on the winner’s podium as he then won titles at Galgorm in Northern Ireland and Wentworth Club in England to stamp his authority on the season-long Order of Merit.
What has helped the G4D Tour make such an impact and provide inspiration for other golfers with disabilities is the platform it holds, with events - except for The G4D Open - being held on the same course in the same week as professionals on the DP World Tour.
That was again the case for the season-ending G4D Tour @ DP World Tour Championship, with inclement weather in Dubai reducing the event to 18 holes.
Mike Browne, a winner on the G4D Tour during its inaugural campaign in 2022, returned to the winner’s circle with a three-shot success over the Earth course last month.
It was a poignant triumph for the Englishman as he dedicated the win to his late father.
In addition to the success of the G4D Tour and due to the European Tour group’s ongoing financial support for EDGA, the number of golfers with disabilities in the World Rankings has increased by 32% from 2022, with players from 46 countries represented - up from 33 the previous year.
What is to come in 2024?
The G4D Tour is already into its third season, with Lachlan Wood emerging as the eighth different player to win on the Tour after his success on home soil earlier this month at the ISPS HANDA Australian All Abilities Championship.
The biggest shift sees a revamp to its format, with both Gross and Net tournaments introduced for the first time in an effort to further opportunities to compete for golfers with a wider spectrum of disabilities.
In a further change for the new season, the leading eight male and two female players from each ranking will be invited to compete – ensuring that female golfers with a disability are represented at each event.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, said: “With one in six people globally having some form of disability, and the physical and mental health benefits of golf well established, encouraging more people into this great game has never been more important.
“By using the established handicap system at several events next season, players with greater impairments can now compete on the G4D Tour. I firmly believe that golf has the potential to be the most inclusive sport in the world and this change further realises this ambition. By boosting female participation in our events, we also want to help inspire more women with a disability to get out there and try golf."
The 2023-24 schedule features eight tournaments in five different countries, with a first visit to Africa planned at the Magical Kenya Open in February.