Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN

Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Disabled Golfers Association (VDGA) held their annual “Golfability” tournament Tuesday at Mt. Doug Golf Course and while prizes were handed out for some of the top scores, all the participants were winners just for being there.

To kick off the VDGA annual event, local celebrities Marty the Marmot – the Victoria Royals Mascot – and the Colorado Avalanche’s Tyson Barrie – a Victoria native – were on hand to meet and greet the players, as well as sign autographs for the crowd.

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Marty greets golfer Mike Turnham (left) while Tyson Barrie signs an autograph for golfer Tyler Amaral (right)(Photos: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The two also squared off in a friendly, longest drive competition to start the tournament off, and although Marty nailed a pretty good drive (for a Marmot anyway) down the middle of the fairway, it was Barrie’s 217-yard scorcher that landed on the green, that earned him bragging rights for the day. It seems living next to golf courses most of his life has brushed off a bit on him.

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While both Marty the Marmot (left) and Tyson Barrie (right) showed good form off the tee, it would be Barrie’s 217 yard drive that would find the green and win him the longest drive competition honours against the Marmot (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

All seven teams of players and their team leaders then made their way around the Mt. Doug course, with some holes being modified for distance as needed depending on the players skill and experience.

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Steve Fowles (centre) chips on to the green under the watchful eye of FrogBox Froggie (left) and volunteer Brian Young (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The players also participated in a Frog Box sponsored chipping competition, as well as a putting competition, both of which provided the players with some variety on the day.  After the play was over the players and volunteers enjoyed burgers and hot dogs on the patio.

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Danny Hurl (left) watches his drive head down the fairway, while Cindy Burdett (right) keeps an eye on her putt during the VGDA tournament Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

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Brad Magnus takes part in the FrogBox chipping competition during the VDGA tournament Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The big trophy winner of the day was James Hines, who won both the putting competition and the low par score of the day. Hines also just missed a hole in one on the last hole of the day when his tee shot bounced off the pin on the 9th green.

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James Hines won both the low par score as well as the putting competition at the VDGA Golfability Tournament Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

Taking the longest drive competition was Scott Jones, who this photographer and reporter is now nick-naming “Good Side”, as every time he passed, he always wanted to make sure we were photographing his good side.

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Scott “Good Side” Jones was very pleased to win the Longest Drive award at the VDGA tournament Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

However ALL the golfers on the course were the real winners and are 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.

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Patrick Campbell keeps an eye on his approach shot during the VDGA Tournament Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

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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Joyce Wilson takes part in the putting competition Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

The Association runs a number of golf tournaments each year, including a spring and fall event, as well as the summer Golfability highlight event, and also has regular teaching lessons for the players at golf courses and driving ranges throughout Victoria.

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All the players and volunteers had a big thumbs-up for the VDGA Golfability Tournament at Mt. Doug Golf Course Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)

For more information on VDGA please visit their website at http://www.vdga.org/ or their Facebook site at www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Disabled-Golfers-Association/152398488103686