Posts Tagged ‘Disability Golf’

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer & TSGer sues Brentwood Council…

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Paul Houghton on buggy

TSGer Paul Houghton and his case against Brentwood Borough Council for discrimination on account of him not being allowed to use his buggy at Hartswood Golf Club have now been taken on by top lawyer Chris Fry…

The BBC interviewed Paul on 3rd September 2018 and all the major news organisations have picked up on the story we first highlighted in 2016…

Dec 2016 – Discrimination-in-Golf…

Paul joined The Social Golfer in 2014 and has been an active and welcomed member ever since.

In 2017, The Social Golfer sponsored Paul and fellow disabled golfer Roger Hurcombe, helping them to fund their competitive golf.

Here’s what the BBC wrote about Paul Houghton’s case….

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Golfer Paul Houghton who is disabled and who uses a prosthetic leg is suing a local council for refusing to let him play on its course using a buggy.

Paul Houghton’s right leg was amputated in 2000 after he was affected by a lethal tissue-eating bacteria.

Mr Houghton learned to walk again – and golf became an important part of life but he still also uses crutches and a wheelchair.

He claims Brentwood Council in Essex discriminated against him but the council is defending the legal action.

Paul is lucky to be alive.

In November 2000, while working as a roofer, he knelt in contaminated water and contracted the deadly flesh-eating bug necrotizing fasciitis. It consumes muscle and body tissue at a rate of 0.75in (2cm) an hour.

“The surgeon told me he had to operate immediately,” Paul told the BBC.

“He said that he had no choice but to continue cutting until he was certain he had removed all the infected tissue.

“I had just two hours to prepare myself for an operation that at best I would survive with a leg missing, but at worst I would not survive at all.”

His right leg was amputated above the knee, and he received the last rites in hospital.

In all he had five operations, some for skin grafts because his amputation was very rushed and the perfect stump could not be formed.

Paul could not continue to work as a roofer and his business was wound up.

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer – Represented England…

He requalified and now works for Chelmsford Council as its access officer in building control.

He learned to walk with a prosthetic limb and switches between it, wheelchairs and crutches.

However, overuse of the crutches causes shoulder injuries, while the prosthetic leg can cause pressure sores that are difficult to cure.

Paul has represented England at disability golf 13 times, with a handicap of 14, and has played on courses across Europe.

Because of his disability, he needs a buggy in order to play an 18-hole course.

In August 2016, Paul had booked to play a round with a friend at Hartswood Golf Course in Essex.

It is owned and operated by Brentwood Council.

Paul Houghton sues Brentwood Council - Hartswood Golf club

On his way to the first tee, he claims he was told he would not be allowed on to the course without a letter from his doctor justifying the medical need for a buggy.

If he obtained such a letter he was told he would be given a certificate allowing him to use his buggy.

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer – What he said…

“I was gobsmacked he told the BBC.

“I’ve played over 100 courses around England, I’ve played all around the world and I’ve not been treated in this way before.”

Paul says he explained that he had his own insurance, a European Disabled Golf Association card, and a medical exemption, but the club insisted that he needed a letter from a doctor to justify the use of a buggy.

It sends the message that disabled people aren’t welcome, that we are not part of society, not included, but are segregated and can’t join in a sport that’s accessible to everybody, because we need to use other equipment to play the game,” Paul says.

In his legal claim, Paul argues that by refusing to allow him to use a buggy without a doctor’s letter, the council discriminated against him because of his inability to walk around the golf course.

In effect, he claims the council was applying a policy that indirectly discriminates against all disabled people who need a buggy to play golf.

Brentwood Council denies any discrimination and is defending the legal action.

The council said it was “committed to ensuring safe access for everyone to all its facilities” and would issue a full statement when legal action had concluded.

Paul Houghton – Disabled Golfer – Lawyer’s view…

Paul Houghton’s solicitor, Chris Fry from the firm Fry Law, said: “This case is more than just about making a service more accessible; it’s a reminder of the importance of the benefits which sport brings to social inclusion, together with physical and mental health.”

“This is especially important for people with a range of disabilities, and not least mobility impairments.”

“A simple adjustment in this case will benefit Paul, and thousands of others in a multitude of ways.”

In its “Buggy Use Policy”, England Golf, the governing body of amateur golf, says it “wishes to encourage the participation in golf of all players regardless of disabilities”.

This, it says, is in accordance with its obligations under the Equality Act.

Cae Menai-Davis, co-founder of the Golf Trust, a charity that works with disabled groups to make golf more inclusive, commented: “Golf is a sport for everyone.”

“Making it difficult for a disabled golfer to use a buggy isn’t just bad policy, it is bad business.”

“There is a huge untapped group of people with learning and physical disabilities that want to play the game and will benefit hugely from it.”


Paul with trophies

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Just some of the new outlets that have covered Paul Houghton in the last 24 hours…

The BBC

The Times

The Sun

The Telegraph

The Independent

The Week

The Daily Mail

The Metro

Epping Guardian

 

Discrimination in Golf – Game takes huge step back….

Monday, December 12th, 2016

discrimination in golfWe know golf is always some years behind the rest of the world in its moral outlook maybe it should have been no surprise, when I recently experienced (in our opinion) a truly awful show of ignorance by my local council toward Paul Houghton – TSG’s very own Disabled golfer.

Having got to know some disabled golfers pretty well over the last few years, we stupidly thought discrimination in golf was a thing of past….

Discrimination in Golf  – Setting the scene…

Now and Paul and myself play a couple of times a year together, so was very pleased when he agreed to play at my local municipal course (which is one of the best in the South East).

Having extolled the values of this super little course to Paul many times, he may have brought a little too much expectation with him on the day.

However, I had no idea what was about to unfold.

Here’s our story in Paul’s own words with some excerpts from the letter he sent to the local council officer (N.B. Real names and places have been replaced) …


discrimination in golfDiscrimination in Golf  –  The Story….

Dear Sir or Madam, 

I was invited to play golf at your municipal course by a resident of your borough. This is his local course but he is not a member.

On a Saturday in August, we arrived to play at the allotted tee time that we had booked. I introduced myself in the Pro shop and paid for my round.

I was told to present my chit to the starter in his hut.

As I left the Pro shop the man behind the counter ‘Dave’, followed me out and told me that I would not be allowed onto the golf course using my Electrokart.

A little surprised I asked why this was, as I possess my own public liability insurance for the vehicle and possess an EDGA tour card (European Disabled Golf Association) for which I had to have a medical for through England Golf.

‘Dave’ was very quick to reply, stating that without proper paperwork, he could only take ‘my word for it’ that I am disabled.

I replied asking “Could he not accept the fact that my leg is missing as proof?”

“No, the Council say I must have the proper paperwork before we let you on the course”.

You won’t be surprised that my initial response is not printable.

Slightly rattled by my determination to not back down and slightly panicked by the thought a lawsuit was already winging its way to his employers….

‘Dave’ quickly scanned the council website (not the Golf Course website – which has no information!) and stated that all the information was available online.

Now the paragraph on the council site is less than clear but does state that a letter must be obtained from the players ‘Doctor’ to justify the use of a buggy. 

As I am an above knee amputee it seems pretty damn obvious of my impairment (my leg also make a tinny sound when you smack your driver against it) but ‘Dave’ stated that it was a ‘Council’ ruling and I would still not be allowed on the course without the proper documents.

(This document would take a matter of weeks to obtain and a Doctor would charge for the letter!).

He also indicated that I would be required to cross a road, which cuts through the course which can be dangerous, but surely that is the same for all golfers?

So how is this all helping golf to be seen a progressive, accessible sport for all?

At this stage, I thought it right to mention to ‘Dave’ that my day job is actually working as a Disability Officer for the neighbouring council and that I know the disability laws inside out.

At which point the blood drained from ‘Dave’s face! (Sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned this at the start of the debate!)

The local council concerned needs to impact assess their procedure in this respect, in line with their Duties towards the Equality Act 2010.

What I experienced on that Saturday in August was gross ignorance as to attitudes towards disability, the situation was handled very poorly and much of my day was ruined. 

As a keen golfer, I have played all over Europe and have never been refused onto a course other when weather conditions inhibit it due to safety. 

To say I was stunned is an understatement. 

My playing partner and host were more shocked, not to mention embarrassed on his and my behalf!

To avoid any more stress for all parties, I decided to cut my losses and asked for my money back, ‘Dave’ retorted that ‘he’ was not discriminating against me.

When I said this was ‘blatant’ discrimination, he said you are only saying that because of ‘that’ pointing to my prosthetic leg”. 

Yours Sincerely…

 

Paul Houghton


discrimination in golfDiscrimination in Golf  – Our View…

You couldn’t make it up, could you!

Discrimination in any walk of life is unacceptable and discrimination in golf turns our stomachs just as much…..

Shortly after receiving his email and letter, Paul quickly received the council’s response……they offered him a free round of golf and have asked if could help them review their wording on their website – hang on, isn’t that your job!

As all TSG members know, we promote equality and diversity, so to hear and experience a day in the life of a disabled golfer ourselves was a shock, to say the least.

Sadly, after four months, Paul is still yet to receive any kind of response or justification from the council as to how they plan to prevent this issue in the future.

Paul is considering legal action but that requires a lot of self-motivation – something he would probably prefer to channel through his golf!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ALL YOUR GOLFING FRIENDS AND LET’S STOP THIS IGNORANCE NOW!

For more information on Golf for all, visit England Golf’s Equality and Diversity page.

By Ian Mullins


Footnote: Paul lost his leg suddenly sixteen years ago in a work accident whereby his leg was amputated above the knee. However, being the gritty character that he is, Paul decided to take up golf.

He later joined the Disabled Golf Association and has now represented his country 12 times, playing of a respectable handicap of 16. He works hard to promote understanding and empathy for disability and hates any form of discrimination in golf!

 

British Inclusive Golf announces event dates…

Saturday, February 27th, 2016
British Inclusive Golf

             British Inclusive Golf

British Inclusive Golf are running a program of taster sessions and workshops for disability groups in the North East and North West down the M62/A1 corridor…..

The charity is in its 4th year and has decided to be self-funding in 2016, as this gives more flexibility to work with groups who wish to take advantage of the ‘British Inclusive Golf’ program, rather than working with groups who feel they have to be involved.

We are also fortunate to have Huddersfield golfer Chris Hanson a European Tour Pro, become our Ambassador this year and hopefully his support will attract new members and support.

British Inclusive Golf – Events in 2016…

The charity’s golf events for the year are to be held on the following dates…

Plus we have two representative matches where the charity invite disabled golfers to represent ‘British Inclusive Golf’ against other organisations including:

  • Sunday April 17th versus Halifax, Huddersfield and District Golf Union Juniors @ Elland Golf Club
  • June 20th – 22nd versus Scottish Disability Golf partnership @ Linden Hall Hotel, Northumberland.
chris hanson golf professional

              Chris Hanson golf professional

Part of our fundraising program we have started a NEW members draw, where members can win weekly, monthly and annually prizes from £25 – £500.

Of course, the prizes will depend on the number of members joining the scheme.

The cost to enter is £1 a week paid either every 4 weeks, Quarterly or Annually.

Joining the draw automatically makes you a member as does entering any of our competitions.

To join please click link bit.ly/golfprizedraw

All our events are open to EVERYONE who wishes to enter as they are all fundraising events, we keep the cost low hoping to make a little more often rather than trying to raise a fortune in one hit. So please support our charity. Registered No 1156142

So, please support us. Registered No 1156142

Registered No. 1156142

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