A COURSE has played host to a sports lover’s first ever game of golf after his dream of taking to the fairway was made a reality.
The greens at Ramside Hall in Durham welcomed Steve Wilkinson as he put an electric-powered sports wheelchair to the test.
Steve has spina bifida and has spent much of his life in a wheelchair.
The only sport he has been able to play previously was bowls with the aid of an adapted walking stick.
He said: “I really enjoyed myself. Hitting a golf ball was therapeutic – I have always wanted to play and I can see now why so many people are hooked on the sport.
“The makers say the stability will enable my performances on the golf course to equal those of players without a disability so I look forward to putting that to the test when I get more used to the sport.”
Steve is a former IT systems specialist who runs his own business, Wheelchair Steve, and is also a speaker and trainer for disability appreciation and promoter of wheelchair sports.
The 54-year-old added: “I don’t like being called a paraplegic. I am a person.
“My motto is If I can, you can.
“I do not suffer from spina bifida because I have never suffered in my life.
“I see past the disability to all the possibilities in life.”
The £15,000 PowerGolfer chair was supplied by Gateshead company, Altonaids Mobility Ltd and will go on display for the first time next month at the Golf North Show in Middlesbrough.
It has previously been used in shooting and fishing.
Jonathan Ward, development officer of the Durham County Golf Partnership, said: “I have tried this amazing piece of equipment and it is easy to see how it can enable those who would never expect to be able to play golf to participate and enjoy the game.
“The partnership welcomes any advances in technology that opens up the sport to anyone who would like to try it, regardless of their physical limitations.”
Steve was joined on the course by former Middlesbrough footballer Craig Hignett, who is an ambassador for the show and a 10 handicap player.