Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

Over 35 disabled golfers took to the links at Cordova Ridge Tuesday in the Victoria Disabled Golfers Association’s first tournament of the 2012 season.

Victoria (ISN) – It is not often that you can head to a golf course and hear screams and shouts of delight when a golfer hits one a meager 20 yards off of the tee, but such was the case Tuesday at Cordova Ridge golf course when over 35 disabled golfers of varying ages and their helpers took to the links in the Victoria Disabled Golfers Association’s (VDGA) first tournament of 2012.

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Golfer Danny Hurl tees off while playing partner Mike Turnham looks on at the VDGA Spring Tournament at Cordova Ridge Tuesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

The golfers on the course today were reaping the benefits of the VDGA mission, which is to teach the game of golf to persons with disabilities, a group of people that would otherwise probably not try to learn the game. In this regard, VDGA has a number of volunteers and golf pros, many who were out on the course today, that volunteer their time to give the players lessons. VDGA also reconditions donated used clubs and provides those to the players as well.

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VDGA Director of Community Relations Mitch Lindsay shows off the wealth of equipment that has been donated to the association (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

VDGA President Stephen McDonald expands on the VDGA role, “We believe that golf is a great sport to help people with disabilities of any kind and to help people who are rehabilitating from injuries. We have 25 volunteers and over the past winter we have given lessons to 28 people and we have 26 sets of clubs and bags that we have reconditioned and donated. Our volunteers teach at four different golf courses in town plus at one of the driving ranges and the cooperation of those businesses has been great.”

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Patrick Cambell (left), Eryn Brick (centre) and Sean Newman (right) in action on the first tee Tuesday (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

“Our tournament today is all about having fun. We have 35 golfers with various disabilities out there just hitting the ball around and enjoying the sun. We will also have a putting contest later and provide a hot dog lunch for them. It is very much a social event and one that we really enjoy as volunteers.”

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Eileen Austin (left), Mike Turnham (centre) and Joyce Wilson (right) on the first tee (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

In order to get the message out about their programs, VDGA liaises with eight of the various agencies in town that serve people with disabilities, as well as with the caregivers, and work with them to develop a lesson plan that is best suited to the individual, as well as to their individual type of disability. McDonald notes, “this process has certainly been a learning experience for us, and for the agencies, but the cooperation we have been receiving is just wonderful.”

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Bev Hitchcliffe watches her chip shot land on the green during the VDGA tournament Tuesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

One of the golfers who was clearly enjoying today’s activities was Jamie Read, who according to his father Gordie has been golfing now for over four years, “He just loves it, he loves the game.” This was clearly evident as just moments after his Mr. Reid spoke with ISN, Jamie sank a short put and struck the most awesome victory pose…and this was on the practice green before the tournament even began!

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Jamie Reid, with his Dad Gordie, celebrates sinking his practice putt, prior to teeing off at the VDGA Spring Tournament Tuesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN).

In the actual putting contest, Scott Jones was the winner and earned a $25 gift certificate for the Cordova Bay Pro Shop for his efforts.

The VDGA will continue its events and training through the summer and on August 7th, will host its second annual Golfability Tournament at Mt. Doug Golf Course. This tournament will be a slightly more competitive tournament this year and feature 24 golfers of varying disabilities.

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Tyler Amaral strikes a nice looking chip shot on to th  green Tuesday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)