The USGA and R&A have announced the creation of the World Ranking for Golfers with Disabilities (WRGD), which will launch at the start of 2019 as a means of promoting competitive golf for golfers with various disabilities and hopefully increase participation in the para-sports community.
The new ranking will be administered in tandem with the World Amateur Golf Ranking and be found on the WAGR website. This new ranking picks up and elevates the European Disabled Golf Association's Ranking for Golfers with Disability, which was formed in 2014 as part of an effort to streamline rankings in paragolf and hopefully push the sport toward inclusion in the Paralympic Games.
“We are pleased to administer this ranking in partnership with The R&A, as it elevates an important population of the golf community that clearly loves the game and enables a variety of competitive opportunities around the world," said John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships. "Together with the modifications to the Rules of Golf for golfers with disabilities and the USGA’s work to make golf courses more accessible, we are working to create meaningful and lasting change to make golf more welcoming.”
The announcement coincided with the playing of the Australian All Abilities Championship, organized by Golf Australia and played alongside the Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney, with 12 golfers competing.
While the changeover in administration of the paragolf rankings is momentous, paragolf will not get into the Paralympics until 2028 at the earliest. Back in October 2018, golf, power chair football and sailing were rejected as potential sports for the 2024 Paris Paralympics. Cerebral palsy football was included along with the 22 parasports in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics for consideration for 2024. The Paralympic program sees much more turnover than the Olympics in terms of which sports are included, but paragolf, even with support from European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley as an EDGA board member, was unable to secure a spot in Paris.
Hopefully, the new competitive ranking, the proliferation of national disabled golf championships, including the second in the United States in 2018, as well potential involvement from the USGA, R&A and PGA Tour could push paragolf into the 2028 Paralympic program in Los Angeles.